Parmesan Pumpkin & Spinach Quinoa

It's finally cooling down here (as much as So-Cal can cool down) and I'm loving it! I've been pulling out all of my fall favorites and looking for new ones to add to the list. This just so happens to be one of the new recipes I am adding to my must-have fall favorites. It was delicious and super easy to make. Plus, when you eat it you just feel like it's fall outside, whether you are looking at the beautiful leaves changing colors or at palm trees.

Did I mention that this was super easy to make? I made this within half an hour, transferred it to my slow-cooker, put it on the keep warm setting, and it was waiting for The Mister and I after our softball game. Plus, the leftovers are just as good when they are heated up. I'm pretty sure I devoured the leftovers in record timing. If you want something that's super healthy, hearty, and screams fall... than you have got to try this recipe.

 recipe adapted from ifoodreal

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 4 handfuls baby spinach leaves

  1. Cook quinoa as per package instructions and set aside.
  2. In the meanwhile, preheat large deep skillet on low - medium heat and add olive oil. Add onion and garlic, saute until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add pumpkin puree, vegetable stock, pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes uncovered.
  3. Stir in Parmesan cheese until melted. Remove from heat and add quinoa and spinach. Stir gently to combine. Adjust thickness with extra chicken stock if desired. I like my quinoa saucy and hot. Because of Parmesan cheese, liquid separation with time is normal. Just give it a good stir. Serve hot.

Thai-inspired Butternut Squash Soup

Even though it's still a little warm here, I've decided I've waited long enough to start enjoying some fall dishes. I've had this recipe sitting on stand-by just waiting for it to get cool enough to make. While, that moment hasn't come yet which means I made it anyways. The perfect thing about this recipe is that it can be made in your crock-pot. Meaning, I don't have to heat up my whole house to make it!

This will definitely be a recipe that I will make again. It was amazing. It was creamy, spicy (when I added the Sriracha), hearty, and it just screamed fall. Which was exactly what I was looking for. I loved it so much that instead of freezing the leftovers for later (like I'd originally planned) I ate the leftovers that week. It was an easy recipe to make and you can make it even more so by using pre-cut squash. I, however, bought a fresh squash and peeled and cubed it. While it wasn't hard, I could see the appeal of buying pre-cut squash if you just don't feel like messing with it. Unfortunately for me, my grocery store didn't have any pre-cut squash at the time.

The one downside to making this dish is that you can't just toss it in your slow cooker before heading to work. There is a step where you need to cook the squash in the slow cooker and blend it to make the base for the soup before adding all the other ingredients. So, I suppose if you wanted to, you could cook the squash and vegetables the night before, store it in the refrigerator, and then the morning of just dump it into the slow cooker and let it do it's thing on low until you get back.

recipe adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen

  • 2 lbs. peeled and cubed butternut squash 
  • 1 cup vegetable stock (vegetable broth in a can is fine) 
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste 
  • 2 tsp. olive oil 
  • 1 onion, finely chopped 
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic (minced garlic from a jar is fine) 
  • 1 tsp. minced ginger root (pureed ginger from a jar is fine) 
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped 
  • 1 can (14 oz.) light Thai Coconut Milk 
  • 4 Tbsp Thai Red Curry Paste 
  • 1/4cup natural peanut butter (without added sugar) 
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro 
  • Sriracha Rooster Sauce for serving 

  1. Peel the butternut squash and cut into cubes. Put the squash and vegetable stock into the slow cooker, season squash generously with fresh-ground black pepper, and cook on high for 2 hours, or until the squash is soft enough to mash easily.  When it's soft, use a food processor, blender, or immersion blender to puree the squash, being careful with the hot food.
  2. Add the coconut milk, Thai Red Curry Paste, brown sugar (if using) and peanut butter to the slow cooker and blend until incorporated. 
  3. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan, add onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the minced garlic, minced ginger, and diced red bell pepper and saute about a minute more.  
  4. Stir the vegetable mixture into the pureed squash, turn slow cooker to low and cook for 1 hour more (I left mine on low for a few hours while I ran errands)
  5. Stir in the chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice and cook about 15 minutes more.
  6. Serve hot, garnished with more chopped cilantro if desired.  For a little spice, drizzle Sriracha Sauce on top.

Shrimp Tacos with Boom Boom Sauce

We are still experiencing warm weather here. I keep hoping it will cool down but it just hasn't abated yet. So, with my fall casseroles on hold I have continued to crank out summer dishes in order to keep the heat down in the house. One of the recent recipes I've tried are these shrimp tacos. Now I know what you're thinking but it's not the shrimp taco part that makes this dish awesome... it's the boom boom sauce.

The original recipe for this called for frozen breaded shrimp. I wanted something a little bit on the lighter side. Plus, I already had raw shrimp on hand. I honestly don't think it made much of a difference. So, if you have a bag of frozen breaded shrimp in your freezer, by all means use it. Like I said before, what makes the tacos delicious is the sauce. Since making these tacos I've come to the conclusion that I will always have a little container of this sauce on hand. The best part about this whole thing is that you can make it however you want to. You can swap out the shrimp to fresh grilled shrimp like I did, you can add more veggies to the taco, you can even tweak the sauce a bit. We like our food with a little spice in it so I added more Sriracha sauce than the recipe calls for. ;)

recipe adapted from It's a Keeper

Shrimp Tacos
  • 1 1/2 cup peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 8 soft flour taco shells
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage (or prepackaged coleslaw mix)
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Boom Boom Sauce (recipe below)
Boom Boom Sauce
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ¾ tsp Sriracha

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the Boom Boom sauce and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 
  2. Brush the shrimp with a little bit of oil, season with salt and pepper and grill 2 minutes on each side, until the shrimp is opaque.
  3. Place about ⅛ cup shredded cabbage in taco shell
  4. Place 2-3 slices of avocado on top of shredded cabbage
  5. Place 4-5 shrimp on top of avocado
  6. Drizzle Boom Boom Sauce on top of shrimp


Caribbean Sea Bass

I know the kids are gearing up to go back to school and some have already started, but we're still going through a heat wave here and I find myself craving a lot of fish. Now, if it were up to me I'd be a-okay with teriyaki salmon all the time. However, The Mister is a little burnt out on my choice of fish and is a little weary when I tell him I'm making fish. If I even say the word "salmon" he looks over at me knowingly and asks, "teriyaki salmon?". So yeah, I admit I need to change it up when it comes to making fish. Which is where this bad-boy comes in. I saw a nice looking piece of sea bass at the grocery store and decided to get it because 1) it's not salmon, and 2) sea bass and teriyaki doesn't sound good. So, there would be no temptation to pull out the teriyaki sauce.

Boy, am I glad that I snagged the sea bass because I'd have never found out about this recipe otherwise. You may have noticed already but I'm one of those people who buy things on impulse and then gets home and looks up what to do with it. Which is exactly what happened with the sea bass. Now, the original recipe called for a habanero pepper but I swapped it out for a jalapeno instead. While The Mister can handle habanero, there are days where I can't even handle a jalapeno. So, I made the swaparoo and I think it worked out perfectly. There was some heat but not too much that it overpowered the fish. Plus, having the sweet pineapple and creamy avocado really helped balance everything out. This will be something I will keep in my back pocket for next summer when we have company over. It's easy enough to whip together and the presentation will definitely impress your friends.

Recipe adapted from Em-I-Lis

  • 1 lb Sea Bass
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • olive oil, for the skillet
  • ½ a jalapeno, seeded, diced
  • 2 scallions, trimmed, cut into thin rings
  • ten 1/4"-thick half-moon slices of pineapple
  • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced into 10 wedges
  • salt and pepper
  1. Cut your fish into two equal portions and season very well with salt. Sprinkle with fresh pepper and drizzle the honey on top, splitting the tablespoon between the two filets.
  2. Slick the bottom of a 10" or 12" non-stick skillet with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. When very hot, add the fish, skin-side down. Cook without moving for 3-5 minutes, depending on the thickness. You might want a splatter screen to help keep your stovetop clean.
  3. When the fish has started to firm up, flip carefully and let the honey caramelize into a nice "crust", another 3 or 4 minutes. Remove the fish from the skillet and set aside on a warm plate.
  4. In the skillet place the pineapple moons in a single layer and toss the diced jalapeno and sliced scallions on top. Season with salt and pepper. After 2 minutes, gently flip the pineapple and cook 2 more minutes. Remove the pineapple, pepper and scallions from the skillet, and set the fish, skin side down, back in to finish cooking. This will not take long.
  5. To plate: alternate wedges of avocado and pineapple on two plates, sprinkling the scallions and pepper on top. Place one piece of fish on each plate atop the salad. Serve immediately.

Green Pea and Garbanzo Bean Dip

I don't know about you, but The Mister and I love chips and dip. We eat it just about every weekend. I use to only make it when we'd go to a party. I'd always make a different dip every time and it sort of turned into a, "What will she make next" game with our friends. I saw a post from Thug Kitchen a while back about their green pea and garbanzo dip and I knew I had to try it. It was weird and wacky enough that it would be unlike anything we'd ever had before but it still had components that we love to eat. We also had everything on hand which is always a huge plus in my book. I don't know about you but I hate running to the store for last minute things.

Let me just say that this dip is delicious. I'm not going to fool you and say that it was love at first bite because it wasn't. I mean c'mon, it's green, lumpy, and made with peas. This is not your typical heavy, cheese laden dip. In fact, it's vegan! There's no dairy in this what-so-ever. So, instead of your typical party dip, this is light and refreshing. It took us a few minutes to figure out which chips worked with the dip. Tortillas were out of the question. There was just something about them that didn't work. They were too thin and didn't have enough bite to them. So, I rummaged around in the pantry and found a bag of bagel chips that were sitting unopened in the back. I mean, it's kind of hard to find things that go with bagel chips. Lo and behold bagel chips are perfect for this dip. Once we figured out the missing piece, the dip was gone in a couple of hours. My family had a field day with our late night snack. We were playing Scattergories via Skype with them and they not only questioned the bowl of green goop but made fun of how loud our crunching was because of the bagel chips. In all honestly, I think they were just jealous. ;)

recipe adapted from Thug Kitchen

  • 2 cups frozen green peas; thawed
  • 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans 
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil 
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions 
  •  2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice 
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar 
  • ¼ tsp salt 

  1. Throw everything in a food processor or blender blend until smooth. Taste the dip and add more seasonings or lemon juice if needed. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
*This is best served at room temperature.