Creamy Gnoochi with Bacon & Peas and more...


Creamy Gnoochi with Bacon & Peas

Creamy Gnoochi with Peas and Bacon Recipe on 5DollarDinners.com

This recipe is inspired by 2 things…first, I was grabbing a few ingredients to make some pasta meals for our church group gathering we were hosting. I spotted a package of gnocchi that I hadn’t seen before in this store and it was priced at $1.99. I grabbed 2 packages to make a giant batch of this for everyone coming over. (Note: the recipe below is written for 4 people, so you’ll only need 1 package.)

While I was cruising through the store grabbing the other ingredients I needed, this ‘Creamy Tortellini’ that we used to order at a place called the “Pasta House” in Santiago, Dominican Republic, immediately came to mind. It was the restaurant we frequented when the culture shock hit hard and we just needed a little taste of food from the USA. Even after living there for 6 years, I still would get cravings from “American food.”

This restaurant served an amazing tortellini with peas and bacon, in a homemade creamy white sauce that we pretty ‘soupy.’ You can make the sauce as thick or thin as you like!

It works perfectly with tortellini or gnocchi. Or an other medium-sized pasta shell would work too!

Creamy Gnoochi with Peas and Bacon Recipe

Ok, so it’s another ‘copycat’ recipe…that makes 2 in one week! Maybe I’m starting a new trend for the site. (But maybe not, because we have a new 31 Days series coming up soon…)

{In case you missed it…’Copycat White Mexican Cheese/Queso Blanco Dip‘ recipe from earlier in the week!}

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Creamy Gnocchi with Bacon and Peas

Adapted from: Creamy Tortellini Recipe

Yield – 4 servings

Preparation Time – 15 minutes

Cooking Time – 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 12 to 16 oz. package potato gnocchi (check to be sure that it’s GF if eating GF!)
  • 6 to 8 slices bacon
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 4 cups milk (rice milk works if you are dairy free!)
  • 2 cups peas (canned or frozen work)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh veggies, as side dish

Directions

  • Cook the gnocchi as directed. Usually only takes 2-3 minutes after the water is boiling. Once they rise, remove from boiling water set aside on plate.
  • Meanwhile, saute the bacon slices in a large 12-14″ skillet. Once cooked, remove the bacon and pat dry. Pour off most (but not all!) of the bacon fat. Run a knife through the bacon to crumble it.
  • To the same skillet, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Quickly whisk in the milk, keeping it from clumping. Let simmer over medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring often as it thickens. Once the sauce has thickened, add in the gnocchi, peas and crumbled bacon. (Note: If using frozen peas, you’ll need to cook them and drain off the water.)
  • Let the gnocchi and other ingredients simmer in the sauce for a few minutes. Season with onion powder, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste.
  • If you want the sauce to be a little thinner, you can stir in a little more milk, until it reaches desired consistency.
  • Prepare some other veggies or side salad.
  • Serve Creamy Gnocchi with Peas and Bacon and side of veggies/salad.
    

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Dip

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Dip from 5DollarDinners.com

We’re coming up on the spring time of the year when sweet potatoes go on sale for a short window of time, dredging up memories of autumn that have been all but covered by mounds of snow. And these same awesome sweet potatoes remind us that the beauty of spring is here to revive us again.

Therefore, it seemed appropriate to use baked sweet potatoes in an enchilada-inspired dip. Precooked potatoes make this dish come together quickly. If you don’t have baked sweet potatoes, you can micro-bake them in a glass dish in about the same length of time it takes to soften the onions.

Avocados would have looked and tasted good on it, but they weren’t on sale this week, and we’ve finished the freezer stash. So we had plain salsa. But Plain Jane was still really good.

One thing I love about this recipe is that it’s gluten-free if you serve it on rice or gluten-free tortillas. And because of the vegetable and protein in the dip, it’s also a one-pot meal, making this recipe valuable in my house.

So when you see the price of sweet potatoes go down in your area, I hope you remember this recipe.

And I hope you have avocados in the freezer.

Note: There is a print link embedded within this post, please visit this post to print it.

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Dip

Yield – 3 cups

Preparation Time -10 minutes

Cooking Time – 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 leftover sweet potatoes, baked
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable broth or water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder

Directions

  • Cut sweet potatoes in half and cut a grid in the flesh, then scoop it out. (Note: Some of the pieces will get mashed, some will stay cubed.)
  • Saute onion in oil over medium-high heat until translucent.
  • Stir in beans and sweet potatoes and heat through.
  • Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in a bowl or jar.
  • Pour sauce on bean and sweet potato mixture and stir until combined. Mash a few beans or sweet potatoes along the way if you like.
  • Enjoy with chips, on a tortilla, or over hot rice!
    

Tropical Green Smoothie

Tropical Green Smoothie from 5DollarDinners.com

Smoothies have become my go-to afternoon snack, ever since I made the ‘make ahead smoothie packs’ for the 85 Breakfasts & Snacks for $140 meal plan. (Definitely check it out, if you haven’t yet! It’s a huge time, money and sanity saver!)

This smoothie is smooth-nomenal. As in “smoothie-phenomenal.” I’m not sure if it’s the peach in the smoothie. Or the clementine. Or the pineapple, or the combo of all three…but this smoothie definitely lives up to it’s ‘tropical’ name. I give you the recipe…

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Tropical Green Smoothie

Yield – 2 servings

Preparation Time – 5 minutes

Cooking Time – 0 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 clementine, peeled and frozen
  • 1/2 banana, frozen
  • handful of tender baby greens (chard, kale, and spinach)
  • 1 peach, pit removed (½ cup peach slices if using frozen)
  • 1/4 cup pineapple chunks with juice (delicious if frozen beforehand)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

Directions

  • Add all ingredients to the NutriNinja or other blender.
  • Cover ingredients with water.
  • Pulse 3 times or until ingredients are completely blended.

Tropical Green Smoothie from 5DollarDinners.com

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The Very Best White Mexican Cheese or Queso Blanco Dip ~ Viva Fiesta!

White Mexican Cheese Dip | Queso Blanco Dip on 5DollarDinners.com

This is the part where I’m going to embarrass myself. But in the process, I think I’ll find a new tribe of queso-lovers.

This goes back 2 months, let me tell the story…

Back in early February, I met some girlfriends for dinner at a new restaurant in San Antonio called Tacos and Tequila. It’s a joint out of Austin and they are expanding into other cities and I’m so glad they chose San Antonio.

We sat down, ordered a round of drinks and a bowl of their queso. They delivered the drinks, and dropped the queso down with a bag of corn tortilla chips and sweet potato chips. An interesting, yet delicious combo.

I took one bite of the queso and immediately declared it the best I’d ever had. This is no exaggeration. It really is the best queso I’d ever had. Not only was it ‘queso blanco,’ but I could see and taste the bits of poblano pepper and the onion. The onion. The onion is what made this the perfect queso ever.

I can still taste it now, even as I type this.

So in the name of quality control & ‘copycat recipe’ research, I ordered another bowl.

And then a 3rd bowl. (You’re welcome, all my fellow queso lovers!)

Yes, there were street tacos mixed into the meal too.

True story: we had 3 bowls of this queso among 4 of us. Yup, there we sat…me and my 3 dear friends…practically drinking this queso out of the bowl.

The next morning, I definitely suffered from a ‘queso hangover.’ But it was totally worth it :P

The next weekend was Valentine’s Day. I bought Steve tickets to the Rodeo & Keith Urban concert for his birthday and we were all set to go out for a rare dinner & entertainment date night. We hopped into the car and headed towards the Rodeo…and Steve says, “Where should we eat?”

Rather than the usual, “well, I don’t know…what are you hungry for? I’m not really craving anything? You decide?” type of conversation that generally takes place…I piped up with, “We have GOT to go to Tacos and Tequila.”

It was on the way, quick on and off the highway. We had plenty of time to stay for 2 bowls of queso. ;)

We ended up enjoying a lovely taco-queso filled meal before heading over to the rodeo, and I’ve been on a mission ever since to perfect this ‘copycat’ recipe for TnT’s Queso Blanco.

Oh, and Fiesta in San Antonio starts soon…I’ll be celebrating with a couple bowls of this queso blanco…and hitting a few of our family’s favorite events. VIVA FIESTA!

Here’s what I’ve got for you…

{Pay close attention to my onion strategy!}

You’re gonna need a double boiler, or a small 1 1/2 or 2 qt. slow cooker/dip cooker.

Add the chunks of cheese to the double boiler/slow cooker and turn on low.

White Mexican Cheese Dip Recipe - Queso Blanco Dip

Add the green chilies. (These are different from the poblanos below.)

White Mexican Cheese Dip Recipe - Queso Blanco Dip-2

THIS IS THE KEY…

Grate 1/2 large white onion, or small white onion.

Right over top of the pot. You can all the juices from the onion falling into the pot.

(If it’s too hot, grate it over a bowl and scrape every last juice out that you can!)

White Mexican Cheese Dip Recipe - Queso Blanco Dip-3

See…see why this is the best queso I’ve ever had.

White Mexican Cheese Dip Recipe - Queso Blanco Dip-4

Add cilantro and cumin.

(If you are one of those people who actually have the cilantro-loathing gene (it exists), leave it out. But don’t leave out the cumin.)

White Mexican Cheese Dip Recipe - Queso Blanco Dip-5

For the roasted poblanos, you’ll want to lop off the top and pull out the seed bundle.

Then dice it all up.

White Mexican Cheese Dip Recipe - Queso Blanco Dip-6

Drop it in with some garlic powder and salt to taste.

Let it simmer for a bit, so the flavors will marry up perfectly!

White Mexican Cheese Dip Recipe - Queso Blanco Dip-7

Serve with your favorite corn tortilla chips.

And please, try not to drink it straight out of the bowl!

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Queso Blanco Dip or White Mexican Cheese Dip

Inspired by Tacos and Tequila restaurant

Yield – 16 appetizer servings

Preparation Time – 15 minutes

Cooking Time – 25 minutes (2 hours on low in mini slow cooker)

Ingredients

  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb. Monterrey Jack cheese block, cut into cubes
  • 4 oz. can green chilies, undrained
  • 1/2 large white onion, or small white onion, grated
  • Small bunch of cilantro (about 3 Tbsp worth), chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Corn tortilla chips

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 425. Place the poblano pepper in a small baking dish (or loaf pan.)
  • Roast for 15-20 minutes. Then let cool slightly, before seeding and dicing.
  • In a double boiler or mini slow cooker, add the chunks of cheese with the green chilies and grated onion. Stir in the cilantro, ground cumin, followed by the diced poblano pepper, garlic powder and salt, to taste.
  • Let simmer in the double boiler until completely melted and smooth, or cook on low for 2 hours in the mini slow cooker.
  • Serve Queso Blanco with corn tortilla chips.
    

Thai Chicken Bake

Thai Chicken Bake Recipe on 5DollarDinners.com

I recently shared how I wanted to rekindle my romance with Thai food after enjoying some Thai take-out when I was visiting my sister a few months back…except it is super expensive to go out for Thai food regularly, so instead I’m making it at home more. I put together a Chicken Pineapple Curry that you cook on the stovetop, and decided a similar baked version was in order.

See…super simple.

Chicken and bell peppers.

Thai Chicken Bake

Pour a curried coconut milk over the top and bake.

Thai Chicken Bake Oven

Serve it over rice.

Even the little people love it!

This is Cuatro enjoying his Thai Chicken Curry. Each of my kids’ palates have been very different as they moved through the toddler years. Ryan wasn’t too particular about anything, except he wouldn’t eat beans. (Still doesn’t love them.) Charlie always has eaten everything. Tyler would have eaten only beans through his toddlerhood, if I let him. And this one…he is my spicy foods guy. Cuatro loves food with a little kick to it. He’ll eat just about any salsa, guacamole with jalapeno in it, and he loves the curry dishes I’ve been making lately.

Thai Chicken Bake Austin-2

(I don’t think he was really eating out of his bowl like a dog.)

Thai Chicken Bake Austin

Cuatro-approved!

With any homemade curry, you can absolutely control the spice level by adding more or less curry paste/powder, and you can always add a little sugar to tone down the heat if you added too much.

Please…let Cuatro be proof that kids can like and enjoy spicy food!!! You won’t know until you offer it to them. This is a great dish to start with! 

And finally…my ‘never pay more than’ price for canned coconut milk is $1.50. I see this price as a sale price for the ‘name brand’ at my regular grocery store. And I also see the store brand at Sprouts for that price on occasion too. I’ve even found it marked down at that price at Target. So keep your eyes peeled!

Thai Chicken Bake Recipe

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Thai Chicken Bake

Adapted from: Chicken Pineapple Curry

Yield – 4 servings

Preparation Time – 10 minutes

Cooking Time – 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 15 oz. can light coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp minced onion
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 to 2 cups brown or white rice
  • Sliced green onion or chopped cilantro, as optional garnish

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a small saucepan, whisk together the coconut milk, red curry paste, curry powder, garlic powder, minced onion, ground ginger and some salt and pepper. Bring to bubbling and remove from heat.
  • While the coconut milk is warming, add the chicken and bell pepper pieces to the baking dish. Then, pour the warmed curried coconut milk over top of the chicken and bell peppers. Season with a pinch more salt and pepper. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until all the chicken pieces have cooked through. Cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the chicken.
  • Cook the rice, as directed. Note that brown rice will take 50 minutes to cook.
  • Serve Thai Chicken Bake over rice with green onion or cilantro garnish.
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