Pesto Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Brussel Sprouts

If you shop at Trader Joe’s, I’m sure you notice they offer about 38629592 different kinds of chicken sausage these days. We’ve used the spicy Italian variety several times to make skillet lasagna, among other things, so I perused Pinterest to try and find others dishes to utilize the sausage. This one piqued my interest because it incorporates brussel sprouts, so somewhat healthy, and pesto. We LOVE us some pesto around this house. 😊 It’s quick, filling, and perfect for a busy weeknight dinner.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 lb Brussel sprouts, outer leaves removed and chopped in half 
  • 3 tbsps olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 package of chicken sausage, sliced into coins  (we used spicy Italian, but I think the fontina, spinach, and garlic variety would work well too!)
  • 1 lb pasta of your choice
  • 2 1/2 tsp minced garlic 
  • 1/3 cup of pesto sauce 
  • Parmesan cheese for sprinkling 

Directions:

Begin by preheating the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and lining a large baking sheet with foil. Also, put your pasta water on to start boiling. Place brussel sprouts halves on sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sprinkle the salt and pepper onto the sprouts, then use your hands to mix the sprouts into the oil until evenly coated.  

 

Pop into the oven for about 15 minutes, until the outsides are crispy and insides are tender. This may take 5-10 minutes longer, depending on the size of your sprouts. 

While your sprouts are cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add your pasta to your boiling water at this point as well. Add the chicken sausage to the skillet and brown, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook another minute or two, just until fragrant. Remove from heat. Drain your pasta. In a large bowl, combine your pasta, sausage/garlic combo, pesto, and brussel  sprouts.  I decided to go ahead and throw some cheese in the mix because, well, it’s me and I love me some cheese! 

 

Give that big bowl of fragrant deliciousness a good stir. Serve warm with a little extra sprinkling of Parm if you please!  

 

Recipe adapted slightly from Gimme Some Oven.

Baked Cookie Butter Oatmeal

I think the secret’s out: I’m a bit obsessed with cookie butter. I’ve tried just about every cookie butter flavored product I’ve come across, and I’m sad to say none have really captured the absolute deliciousness that is the original cookie butter spread. When I found this recipe, I went in to it expecting to be let down. Y’all, I’m happy to report that my expectations were exceeded! Oatmeal doesn’t really get my gears going, but cookie butter oatmeal is something with which I can definitely get on board. With the banana sauce, a serving clocks in at about 400 calories so I’m hesitant to call it healthy. It’s so filling though, it’s totally worth it! 5-6 hours later I’m still not hungry. This is a breakfast worth getting excited over, for sure.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup old fashioned dry oats
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 heaping tbsps cookie butter
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla 

For the banana sauce (optional):

  • 1/2 large ripe banana
  • 2 tbsps plain or vanilla yogurt
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease a small ovenproof bowl. (I used my 18 oz square Le Creuset baking dish and it was perfect.) In a small bowl, whisk together the oats, salt, and baking powder. In another small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the egg white and cookie butter. This can take some work; cookie butter is super thick and sticky! I promise it comes together. Once well combined, add the milk and vanilla to the cookie butter mixture.  

 

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Pour oatmeal into your prepared dish/bowl.  

 Pop into the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the oatmeal is nice and puffy. While your oatmeal is baking, make your banana sauce (if using). Add the half banana and yogurt to a small food processor.  

 Blend completely, then sprinkle in a little cinnamon and the vanilla…  

 Then drizzle some sauce on top of your slightly cooled oatmeal. Oh yes. So. Much. Yes.  

 Don’t think you have to wait for cooler temperatures to give this scrumptious little breakfast treat a try! 

Recipe from Healthy Food for Living.  

Texas Sheet Cake Cookies

Guys, fair warning- these may be the simplest cookies ever. So stinkin easy, and I’d be willing to bet you have everything in your pantry to make them RIGHT NOW. They’re so easy, I made them twice in one week after my mother-in-law posted the recipe. My husband greatly appreciated this as Texas sheet cake is his all-time favorite. 😉 The cookies are soft, almost brownie-like in texture; the icing literally melts in your mouth. Just chocolatey enough without being overwhelming. You’ve been warned. 

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 and 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

For the icing:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsps cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsps milk
  • 2 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper (you’ll end up with about 2 dozen cookies). In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about a minute or two. Add the egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Put chocolate chips in a small, microwaveable bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals until completely melted. Add melted chocolate to the stand mixer bowl and blend well.  

  

I think the dough ends up looking like chocolate ice cream! 😋

 

Use a measuring tablespoon to scoop dough and roll into small balls. These don’t puff up too much so don’t worry about putting them too close together!  

 

Bake for about 7 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. They make still look shiny and not baked through- this is ok! You don’t want to over-bake them and the baking sheet will finish them nicely while they’re cooling.  

 

While your cookies are cooling, whip up the icing. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa powder, and milk.  

 

Mix together on medium heat until butter is completely melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the powdered sugar.  

 

Use a spoon to drizzle icing generously on top of the the cookies…  

   

Then attempt to wait a while for the icing to completely set before eating. I don’t think we’ve made it more than 15 minutes without taste testing and they’re fine… Just a bit messy. 😊  

 

Stupid easy, amirite? Enjoy with a cold glass of milk or a cup of coffee, or standing over your kitchen sink before your toddler comes in demanding a cookie for himself… What? 😜 

Recipe adapted slightly from Kylee’s Kitchen.

*I apologize for the abysmal quality of the photos. It was dark, rainy, and generally gross when I made these!

Perfect Roasted Chicken

Maybe it’s because I’m not at all sophisticated, but the idea of roasting a chicken was super intimidating to me. Like, I’d never done it in my 28 years of life. Then I helped Mark with our Thanksgiving turkey this past year and thought surely a chicken would be similar. You know what?

It’s EASIER. So easy, I’m embarrassed and sad it took me so long to try it! Not only is it easy, you can change up the rub to use whatever spices you like, and we get 2 meals out of it- chicken that night, and then we shred the leftovers for pasta, quesadillas, whatever. I know the cooking temperature seems too low, but the amount of time cooked makes up for it and as long as your thermometer reads 170-180 degrees Fahrenheit when inserted into the breast, I think it’s fine. We’ve had this chicken many times now and never had issues. The chicken is perfect every time- juicy meat, crispy skin, full of flavor. So go ahead and look fancy next time you have people over for dinner… Roast ’em a chicken. Just act impressed if I have you over and I serve this now that you know my secret. 😉

Ingredients:

  • 4 lb whole chicken (I’ve used 3.5-5 lb chickens with the same results)
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 4 tsps sea salt
  • 3 tsps black pepper
  • 2 tsps paprika
  • 1 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit*.  Line a baking dish or small roasting pan with foil (you don’t have to do this, I just like to avoid doing dishes whenever possible). Remove giblets from chicken and discard. In a small bowl, combine your spices and mix well.

  

Rub spice mixture all over chicken, inside and out. If you think far enough in advance, do this and let marinate overnight; if you don’t, I usually rub the spices on right before I pop the chicken in the oven and it’s still yummy. 

    

Stuff the onion into the chicken, then put into the oven to roast for about 5 hours. After about an hour, begin periodically basting the chicken with its juices.

Once your 5 hours is up, remove from oven and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before carving. I use this term loosely… The chicken will literally fall off the bone.   

 

This is one of our favorite dinners and as I mentioned, makes an excellent entree for company. Serve it up with sides of your choosing and ENJOY!  

 

Recipe adapted slightly from Deep South Dish.

*If cooking at this low temperature makes you nervous, you can easily bump it up. Just make sure to adjust your cooking time accordingly!

Restaurant Review: Rocket 88 Doughnuts

Fletcher Place, you’re becoming quite the foodie mecca of Indianapolis! A slew of new buzz worthy restaurants, a distillery, a brewery… People are snatching up property in this quaint neighborhood just south of downtown near Fountain Square left and right. Just after the start of the new year, Rocket 88 Doughnuts opened after a successful Kickstarter campaign got them the funds they needed to launch. Initially, I thought “oh boy, another doughnut place”. Mind you, General American Donut Company had recently opened and the Flying Cupcake announced a little sister donut shop, the Dancing Donut. Add already existing Dunkins, the Donut Shop, and of course, Long’s, it’s not unreasonable to ask…How many doughnut spots does one town need?

Friends, I’m here to tell you… This place is LEGIT. 

Let’s start with location. Other than the fact that Fletcher Place is the happenin’ place to be, Rocket 88 is situated in a little corner of a building right off of the interstate. 

 

Sadly, I only managed to snap a shot of the exterior thanks to one curmudgeon toddler. The inside is cool, modern but welcoming, with a chalkboard wall menu as you walk in on the left and a darling mural of the life of a doughnut on the right. Coffee, tea, and milk are offered including a Mile Square Coffee blend made exclusively for Rocket 88. Now, let’s get to the good stuff- the doughnuts.

  

Oooooh, mama. This was the sampler I got this particular day: a browned butter pretzel cake, an Earl Grey vanilla cake, a caramel apple spice waffle doughnut, and 2 chocolate glazed cake. I say this particular day because after the first visit, we returned 2 more times in a 7 day period. It’s THAT good! Others worth mentioning are the chocolate maple bacon and the hazelnut espresso cream (OMG, I dreamt about that doughnut. It was seriously amazing.). I liken Rocket 88 to Long’s fancy, organic cousin. Melt in your mouth delicious, these doughnuts are made with as many locally sourced ingredients possible, are all organic, and many are vegan. The owners are also working on a gluten free recipe for that crowd. Several flavors are offered daily and specialty flavors change daily based on what ingredients are available. Those amazing waffle doughnuts (named the Leslie Knope, LOVE IT!) are only available on Sundays and Wednesdays. Prices range from $1-$3 a piece (like I said, Long’s FANCY cousin!) but in my opinion, are so worth it. I paid about $11 for the assortment above and I’ll tell you, for 4 doughnut at General American, I paid $9 and wasn’t nearly as impressed. They are also open on Friday and Saturday evenings for game nights, offering special treats each night- a recent offering included beignets in a variety of flavors.

As a final testament, I’ll leave you with an anecdote. A few days after our first Rocket 88 visit, I asked Jack what he wanted for breakfast. His answer was a resounding “DOUGHNUTS!” Ask and you shall receive, little man. 😉

     

Check out Rocket 88 Doughnuts at 874 Virginia Avenue, Indianapolis 46203 every day but Monday. See their menu here.

Strawberry Banana Scones

Remember those chocolate chip scones I blogged a while back? I won’t pretend I like these better, as chocolate will always win in my book. However, these are a lovely little breakfast treat that you don’t have to feel too guilty about enjoying. A scone by definition is not especially sweet, so the bananas themselves lend the majority of the sweetness to these, and fresh chopped strawberries deliver a nice fruity punch. I love to make big batches of scones and freeze them individually; wake up, throw a few on a cookie sheet, and voila! Warm, delicious breakfast bread. A little too easy…

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 tbsps sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsps cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 3/4 cups fresh, chopped strawberries

Directions:

Begin by preheating oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and lining a baking sheet with parchment paper (skip this step if making ahead). In a liquid measuring cup, combine the egg and heavy cream. Add the bananas and mash with a fork until well combined.  

 

Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry cutter or two forks, add butter cubes and work into dry ingredients until a pebbly dough forms. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined. 
  
Finally, fold your strawberries into the dough with a spatula, just a few gentle turns.  

 

At this point, you can use a dough scoop to form your scones and wrap in plastic wrap to freeze…  

 

Or you can pop them onto your prepared baking sheet. Bake 20-22 minutes, or until golden.  Enjoy with a cup of joe! 😊☀️☕️

 Recipe from What’s Cookin Chicago?

Sugar Cookie Cupcakes

Imagine biting into a sugar cookie. Soft, chewy, slightly buttery but just sweet enough not to make your teeth hurt? Now put that in a cupcake form. Oh yes, friends, these are the real deal. I was skeptical that a cupcake could in fact taste like a cookie, but this recipe manages to capture that essence perfectly. Per the original writer’s suggestion, I made the frosting pink to emulate those cheapy Lofthouse cookies you can get at Kroger for like, a dollar (still delicious, don’t think I’m knocking them!). And the sprinkles were for photo taking only, but if you were making these for a birthday party I think they really make them festive! These fluffy little beauties have definitely made my short list for future birthday party menu options. 😊 Happy baking!

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup half n’ half

For the frosting:

  • 2 tbsps cream cheese
  • 5½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4-5 tbsps half n’ half
  • Optional: red food coloring and sprinkles

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cupcake tin with liners. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla and eggs. In a medium mixing bowl add flour, baking powder, and salt, and whisk to combine. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix just until combined. Add half n’ half and mix until completely incorporated. Scoop batter into prepared tin, filling each liner about ⅔ full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating tin halfway through baking. Transfer tin to a wire rack to cool.

  

While the cakes are cooling, prepared the frosting. In a clean stand mixer bowl, beat together cream cheese, butter, and sugar. Mix in vanilla and add half n’ half  1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. I personally like my frosting on the thick side! 

  

If using, add food coloring one drop at a time until you reach the shade desired. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and add sprinkles. As my little buddy would say, “PRETTY!” 

 

Recipe from Creme de la Crumb.