Pies, Tarts, and Crostatas – usually, when I think of pies and tarts they’re filled with something sweet and fruity, chocolate, or other lusciously sweet concoction. That’s part of why I was so excited to be a judge at the American Pie Council National Championships this year. I mean, who wouldn’t want to sit and eat pie for two days? I learned very quickly that you should NOT pick your favorite kind of pie to judge. Why? Because after more than 30 cherry pies (including gluten-free and no sugar added) I think it’s going to be a very long time before I’ll want another cherry pie again. It was really inspirational to see all of those beautiful pies – some were works of art. I don’t usually make pies so I was searching pies and tarts when I came across this pin for Creamy Herbed Ricotta and Asparagus Puff Pastry Tart by Michelle of The Brooklyn Cook. Ooh, a SAVORY option!
There have been a LOT of pins for one pan or sheet pan dinners on Pinterest lately and I absolutely get why they’re so popular. Life is busy (just in case you didn’t get that memo). After a day of work, family, and other activities I don’t always get excited about fussing over supper, nor do I plan well enough for slow cooker meals. I know that I’m not alone on this. That’s why these meals are awesome. One pan + one cutting board + 1 knife = supper done with minimal fuss and even fewer dishes. I knew I wanted to try this pin for Paprika Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner by Chrissie of The Busy Baker as soon as I saw it.
You might remember the Honey Balsamic Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner post that I did not too long ago; this is very similar but with a different flavor profile.
One of the things that I thought was interesting about this recipe was that the veggies included beets. I’ve recently been using beets in my juicing and I’ve had pickled beets so I was excited to try them in a new way.
Start by cutting your veggies and putting them on the sheet pan. Do you see that big one in the center with a bit of green? That’s one clove of elephant garlic. It was HUGE; almost the size of a potato! I threw him in just for fun.
Season the veggies, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and toss them.
Add chicken, season it, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and rub it in.
Then put it in the oven to roast. In half an hour your house smells amazing and dinner is done!
The chicken was juicy and flavorful even when the leftovers were reheated for lunch. The combination of vegetables was delicious and so pretty. HH gave his 100% approval so this is definitely going to be put in the regular dinner rotation.
The Pintesting Results:
Overall Results: 4.7 Pins
Accuracy: This was an easy and delicious supper made on one sheet pan and it turned out exactly like the original post said it would. The smokey paprika gave warmth and lots of flavor without being too spicy and the roasted veggies were tender on the inside and just a bit crispy on the outside. 5 Pins
Difficulty: There is a bit of prep work to getting all of the vegetables peeled and chopped, but that’s the hardest part. Due to the number of veggies that needed peeling prior to chopping (potatoes, carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes) I’m giving this 4 Pins.
Time: The prep work took about 10 minutes; twice as long as the 5 minutes that Chrissie had in her recipe. In all fairness, I could have chopped baby carrots and used the smaller potatoes and left the skins on to cut the time. The cook time was 30 minutes, so 35-40 minutes is not a long time to wait for supper. 4 Pins
Cost: Most of the ingredients are kitchen staples and all are easy to find at most grocers. The chicken thighs were the most expensive ingredients but at $4.85 for four that puts the total cost per serving at less than $5.00. 5 Pins
Practicality: These sheet pan recipes are so easy, quick, and delicious. And let me say again, 1 pan + one cutting board + 1 knife. Just three kitchen tools to wash! 5 Pins
I have a confession to make – I love Disney movies. I remember going to the Disney summer film festivals each summer as a child. Every week there was a couple of shorts and then a feature-length movie. It was one of my favorite summer memories.My kids loved Disney when they were old enough to watch their first movie, Beauty and the Beast. It’s our all-time favorite, but there have been others that are near the top of the list; like Ratatouille. I think I fell in love with this one because of my love of cooking and my dream to visit France. So when I saw this pin for the BuzzFeed Goodful recipe of Baked Ratatouille, inspired by Marie at Feeling Foodish, it made me think of the way that the rat-chef, Remy, took the traditional vegetable stew and transformed it into haute cuisine.
If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I don’t want to spoil it for you, but this little clip will let you see the dish that I’m referring to – and go watch the movie!
So in an attempt to recreate the dish that piqued my curiosity since it became a movie icon, here is the Pintesting of Baked Ratatouille.
There are three main steps to making this dish; the sauce, the veggies, and the herb seasoning.
1. The Sauce:
The sauce starts with fresh aromatics. I found it cheaper to get a potted basil plant at the grocery store than to buy a small packet of basil leaves in the herb section. Not only does the basil stay fresh longer, but it lasts longer and looks so pretty on my kitchen counter.
Sautee the onions and peppers in extra virgin olive oil.
When they start to soften add the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Minced garlic burns rather quickly, so I wait a bit before adding it.
Add the crushed tomatoes. By the way, this would be great over pasta.
Add the basil and take it off the heat.
2. The Vegetables:
Now for the veggies. Try to find similarly sized vegetables. This is one of the first times I’ve ever cooked eggplant, and I should have chosen more wisely. You’ll find out why in a moment.
Slice the vegetables thinly. I used a mandoline (seen above) for the yellow squash and zucchini, but the eggplant was too wide and the tomatoes didn’t slice well so I used a knife on them.
As you can see, the eggplant was MUCH larger than the rest of the veggies. Not one to give up, I knew there had to be a way to make this work.
I used double everything other than the eggplant, and it seemed to fit well. Voilà!
Layer the veggies in a pattern.
Continue this all the way around the pan making concentric rings. I ended up cutting the eggplant in order to make it fit in the center ring.
3. The Herb Seasoning:
This calls for fresh herbs; thyme, basil, and parsley. The store didn’t have fresh parsley so I used dried.
NOTE: When substituting dried herbs for fresh, remember that they are more potent when they’re dried. You usually need about 3 times the amount of fresh herbs as you would dried herbs. In this case, 2 Tablespoons of fresh parsley would be about 2 teaspoons of dried parsley.
Mix the herb seasoning. It smells incredible!
Brush it on the arranged vegetables.
See how pretty that looks!
Bake it covered for 40 minutes in a 375-degree pre-heated oven. Remove the cover and bake another 20 minutes.
Give it just a minute to cool and then dig in. We had eaten lunch not too long beforehand, so this was a separate vegetable course. It smelled and tasted so good that I had two small “just-to-taste” servings while my HH had three.
We ate the leftovers the next day with some oven-baked fish – so delicious! The flavors have longer to get to know each other and play more nicely together; similarly to how lasagna or chili tastes better the next day.
Fin (The End):
The number of vegetables called for in the recipe was nearly double of what would fit into the pan. We didn’t complain since most of the prep work was done and I just made another batch. If eating veggies the same way too many days in a row sounds boring, I found some ways to do a ratatouille makeover. Check here and here for inspiration.
A French foodie friend told me that the ratatouille on the movie is not really ratatouille, which is a simple vegetable stew. So I searched for the Ratatouille version of ratatouille and found that it’s actually called Confit Byaldi. In the image below, the Disney Pixar version of the dish is shown at the top with a real version shown beneath (one being mine).
I want to leave you with some inspiration; a quote from the illustrious Chef Gusteau, “Anyone can cook but only the fearless can be great.” Be fearless. Be Great. Try this recipe.
The Pintesting Results:
Overall Results: 4.0 Pins
Accuracy: The dish turned out looking like the recipe picture and tasted delicious, but the number of vegetables was nearly double of what the pan could hold and that’s a lot of extra veggies. Also, the recipe didn’t specify the kind of eggplant to use in order to get similar-sized slices for uniformity. For these reasons, I’m giving this 4 Pins.
Difficulty: This recipe requires a lot of prep work for all three parts. If you don’t have a mandoline and need to slice all of the vegetables with a knife, it will take a bit of time, too. You will use the chop, slice, and chiffonade knife techniques; not hard, but not easy enough for kids. 4 Pins
Time: There are about 15 minutes of prep work to get all the veggies done, plus about 15 minutes to cook the sauce and an hour of baking time. That’s an hour and a half. Don’t get me wrong – it’s absolutely worth the time and you can make extra to freeze or you can get it layered early in the day and cook it for supper, but it’s not going to be a 30-minute meal. 3 Pins
Cost: If you have a garden and need to use up a bumper crop of vegetables, then this is a cheap dish to make. However, if you need to hit the grocery store for everything it could get costly depending on what’s in season and on sale. Since produce prices fluctuate substantially by regions and seasons, I’m not going to give a specific price, but I will give this 4 Pins.
Practicality: If you have or know kids (little or big ones) who don’t care for vegetables, this might be one way to get them to eat them. First, it’s delicious. Second, it’s from a movie. Let the Disney magic work in your favor here. That the flavor is even better if you have leftovers is a big plus. I also love that leftovers can be transformed into everything from quiche, omelets, sauces, quesadillas, soups, and so much more. 5 Pins
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Chungah’s recipe also took less time to make – a big plus in my book.
- 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.)
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.
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.
Put the chicken on the pan and drizzle the remaining marinade on the veggies.
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.
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?
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!
And now I have to say this. WINNER! WINNER! CHICKEN DINNER!
The Pintesting Results:
Overall Results: 4.85 Pins
Accuracy: This recipe was as simple as the TipHero video showed it to be even though I followed Chungah’s recipe. 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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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!)
Brown the sausage and onion.
Add the garlic and seasonings.
Stir in the broth, lentils, and potatoes, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and zucchini; simmer for 15 more minutes.
Wilt in the spinach for a couple of minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and the soup is done.
Natalie recommends serving with parmesan shavings, so I grated some onto the soup.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
- It’s fast
- It’s easy
- It only uses a handful of ingredients (most are likely to be in your kitchen right now)
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.
Boil the orzo pasta. Now this seems easy, but wait…
Kristin says to cook for 3 minutes, add broccoli, then cook for another 3 minutes or so.
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.
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.
Drain everything really well.
Return to the pot and add the cheeses, butter, and milk.
After mixing and per Kristin’s instructions, I checked the seasoning. Good call! I added a touch of salt and several grinds of pepper.
That’s it. Really! We’re done – except for the plating.
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
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
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
Time: The whole recipe came together in under 20 minutes even with me taking the pictures. PERFECT for a busy weeknight dinner. 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
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