Saturday, December 8, 2012

Spaghetti Squash with Shrimp

I rarely make spaghetti squash mainly because butchering it horrifies me.  I always come way too close to chopping off a finger.  But once you finally conquer the squash and cut it open, the rest is easy and the final product is both healthy and hearty.

1 large spaghetti squash
3 cloves of minced garlic
15-20 medium uncooked shrimp (peeled and deveined)
1 15 oz. can Italian style diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a large baking sheet.  Cut the squash in half length-wise.  Remove seeds and place both halves face-down on the baking sheet.  Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour or until the skin can be sliced through easily with a knife and the flesh is soft.  Take it out of the oven and let it cool.  Heat some olive oil or cooking spray in a large skillet over high heat.  Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes until fragrant.  Make sure the shrimp is patted dry, season with salt and pepper, and add to the pan.  Sear the shrimp for a couple of minutes per side.  Add the can of diced tomatoes along with the brown sugar, and reduce heat to simmer.  While the shrimp and sauce simmers, use a fork to pull the flesh of the squash out of the skin and into a large bowl (will peel apart and look like spaghetti).  Season the squash with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Add the shrimp and sauce mixture to the bowl of squash and toss with a fork or tongs.  Serve it topped with the Parmesan. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Chili Verde

This chili verde is Trav's favorite, and since his team, the Chargers, have been losing so horribly, I wanted to help heal his spirit.  He enjoyed this hearty bowl paired with a delightfully strong old-fashioned, and was a happy camper again in no time.

1 1/2 lbs pork tenderloin cut into 2 inch cubes
1 diced yellow onion
2 chopped and seeded green bell peppers
2 chopped and seeded Anaheim chilies
1 diced and seeded jalapeno pepper
3 cloves of minced garlic
2 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
1 lb of tomatillos (roasted with husks and skin removed)
4 cups of chicken broth
1 bunch of cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

First roast the tomatillos at 400 degrees for 20 minutes after removing their husks and rinsing them off. Once they are cooled, remove the skins, dice them, and set them aside.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add in the pork and brown on all sides (about 5 minutes).  Set the pork aside in a large stock pot.  In the same skillet the pork was in, add the onion, peppers, chilies, garlic, cumin and oregano and sweat for about 5-7 minutes.  Add the veggie mixture to the pork in the stock pot.  Then add in the tomatillos and cover chicken broth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for at least 90 minutes over low heat.  I also ended up adding about a teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with water to thicken it up a bit more at the end.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Meaty Balls

This week I suddenly had an epiphany...I have NEVER made meatballs!   Well, except for one time in college when I made my mom's Swedish meatballs because I was feeling homesick, but are Swedish meatballs real meatballs?  Maybe the idea to make these came to mind because it was just Thanksgiving and I have been missing my family once again.  I decided to try it this time with whatever I had on hand in my cupboard.  My mom always uses ground sirloin - but I only had ground turkey breast.  And as an ode to her Swedish meatballs, I kept the ketchup, but had to nix the jelly in order to produce a more Italian/Thanksgiving fusion-style version.  They turned out juicy and incredibly flavorful!  We ate them over pasta and will eat the leftovers tomorrow in sandwich form - looking forward to it already.

Turkey Meatballs:
Package of lean ground turkey breast
1 egg
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons ketchup
salt and pepper

Sauce:
1 15 oz. can of tomato sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 cup reduced sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon brown sugar
salt and pepper

Mix all of the meatball ingredients with your hands.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat and spray liberally with cooking spray.  Roll the meatballs into golfball sized portions and add to pan.  Saute about 3 minutes per side then add the sauce ingredients.  Simmer for about 10-15 more minutes over low heat.  Add more water or stock as needed and be sure to taste and adjust.




Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sweet n' Spicy Pecans

This is an easy snack that comes together in under ten minutes. Should be a perfect little munchie for tomorrow's pre-Thanksgiving festivities!

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayanne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups pecans

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the salt, sugar, and spices to the butter and mix with a whisk for 2 minutes until the air smells delicious.  Add in the pecans and stir for about 4 minutes until the mixture just starts to caramelize and the pecans soak up the mixture.  Pour into a glass dish and let cool.  These can be stored in a sealed container on your counter for a few days, or in the fridge for a couple of weeks.  But I assure you, they won't last that long.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Seafood Stew

I love seafood stews.  Every time I go to a restaurant that has one on the menu, I have to order it.  From the Italian cioppino to the French bouillabaisse to the Asian seafood noodle soups - I can never resist.  But this habit was beginning to make a dent in my wallet and I knew I could replicate the flavors at home.  This recipe is so simple and utterly delicious, you will feel like the fanciest cook around.


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 onion
Mixed seafood (I used a mix I saw at the fish counter of my grocery store that included mussels, calamari, whitefish, shrimp, imitation crab meat and baby octopus.
1 can of Italian style diced tomatoes (with basil and oregano)
1 1/2 cups of chicken stock
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet or pot.  Add garlic and onions and saute until translucent.  Add in seafood and cook for a bout five minutes.  Add in the remainder of the ingredients and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for about 15 minutes until slightly reduced.  Serve with crusty bread (my poor ass used hot dog buns in the photo above, but if you can afford a loaf of French bread, I recommend opting for that).

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Favorite DC Restaurants

I decided I need to keep a list of my favorite spots and then also places I still need to try. Mainly for selfish reasons - need to make sure friends and family know where to treat me for my Birthday and other special occasions.

Top Ten DC Restaurant Experiences:
1) The Bistro at Restaurant Eve
2) The Source
3) Zaytinya
4) Brasserie Beck
5) Le Diplomate
6) District Kitchen
7) Ripple
8) Jaleo
9) Bistro Du Coin
10) Graffiato
11) Estadio
12) 2 Amys



Need to Go:
Palena
Little Serrow
Cushion's Eat Place
Komi
Toki Underground
Chez Billy
Table
Ris
Vidalia
CityZen
Obelisk
Blue Duck Tavern
Tabard Inn


Monday, October 22, 2012

Non-Crumbly Sandwich Bread

I love making homemade bread but for some reason it always crumbles when I try to slice it for sandwiches.  I am so happy I finally found a recipe that creates soft, light bread that is perfect for sandwiches, is low in sodium, and sugar and tastes amazing!  I made this recipe in my bread machine on the normal white bread setting.

Add the ingredients below to your bread pan in this order:
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of honey
3 cups of bread flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 package of yeast

Mom's Juicy Sirloin Burgers



I never liked hamburgers growing up and even today, the only ones I will eat are from In n Out burger or my mom's.  Now that I am on the East Coast, In n Out is no longer an option.  So it's mom's juicy burgers all the way! Glad she was generous enough to share the recipe with me :)

Ingredients: 
Ground sirloin
1 egg
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 minced shallot
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup of soy sauce for marinading

Mix everything except the soy sauce in a large bowl with your hands.  Marinate at least three hours in soy sauce.  Grill and serve with melted provolone on hamburger buns with any other fixings of your choice. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Orange Arugula Salad

BEST...SALAD...EVER

2 cups of arugula
crumbled blue cheese
sliced almonds
Slices from one orange
Sliced prosciutto
*I also added in some extra shredded veggies I had in my fridge

Dressing
Juice from one medium orange
1 teaspoon of graded orange rind
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of olive oil
salt and pepper

Just whisk the dressing ingredients together and toss with the salad!  Healthy, flavorful and refreshing!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tangy Deviled Eggs

I love the idea of deviled eggs - they are so cute.  But I have never liked mayonnaise.  I decided to try making them with less mayonnaise and more of my favorite ingredients like mustard, honey and blue cheese. They turned out to be everything I had hoped they would and more! 

6 hard-boiled eggs
1 tablespoon nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon of light mayo
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon crumbled blue cheese
paprika

Hard boil the eggs by covering them with water and bringing the water to a boil in a pot, uncovered.  As soon as the water starts to boil, remove the pot from the heat and cover for fifteen minutes.  Then drop the eggs into ice water to cool.  Peel off the shells, then cut the eggs in half and scoop out the yolks into a bowl. Mix in the rest of the ingredients with the yolks, then scoop the mixture back into the eggs.  Sprinkle with paprika. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

French Baguettes

I always forget how easy and inexpensive it is to make bread from scratch.  The only problem is that it requires several hours of waiting around.  I like to make bread recipes that require as little work as possible, allowing me to lounge around as much as possible while I am waiting for the fresh-baked masterpiece to finish.  This recipe is pretty difficult to mess up, which is great for me, since I have definitely had a fare share of bread-making mishaps.  One thing I should emphasize is allowing plenty of time for the dough to rest before baking.  I was in a rush and only gave it 30 minutes (skipped the second rest period).  The bread came out good, but was a little dense for my liking - which I believe could have been reversed had I allowed more time to rest and rise before sticking the two loaves in the oven.

This recipe was adapted from an Allrecipes recipe with extremely high ratings.  I used a bread machine's dough cycle for the prep work, but you can also make this the old-fashioned way!

1 cup water
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons rapidrise yeast
1 egg

Add the ingredients to your bread pan in the order listed above (except for the egg yolk) and select the "Dough Cycle."  When the dough cycle completes, remove the dough from the bread pan, punch it down, and put it in a greased bowl.  Cover it and let it rest for 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size.  Punch it down again and cut it in half.  Then on a lightly floured surface, roll the two balls of dough into baguette shapes.  Place on a greased cookie sheet, cover it, and let it rise for another 40 minutes until it doubles in bulk again.  Cut slashes about every two inches across the loaf.  Then brush the beaten egg along the top of each loaf.  Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.  Let it rest and cool for at least 30 minutes after baking.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Chicken with Soy Peach Sauce


2 chicken breasts
1 large ripe peach (pealed and diced)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup of orange juice
1/4 cup of water
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1 tablespoon of minced ginger
olive oil or cooking spray
salt and pepper

Sear the chicken on both sides over medium to high heat, remove from pan and set aside.  In the pan the chicken was in, add the garlic and ginger and cook for about 2 minutes.  Then add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add the chicken to the pan and simmer for about 8 more minutes until chicken is cooked through.  Serve the chicken with the peach sauces poured over top.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Coconut Curried Chicken

I have always found it difficult to keep stir fried chicken moist, but I finally found a fool-proof way to prepare succulent, juicy chicken.  Just cut chicken breasts into 1 inch cubes, sprinkle some fish sauce over them to coat, then drop them in a mixture of seasoned cornstarch and flour.  Throw them in a hot pan with a little oil, and cook them for just under five minutes.  Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside.  Add more olive oil to the pan and cook the onion and ginger.  Throw in veggies and garbanzo beans, then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about 5 minutes, stir in the chicken and simmer a few minutes more. Serve over cooked white rice. 

2 tablespoons of fish sauce
3 tablespoons of cornstarch
1 tablespoon of flour
2 large chicken breasts cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons of minced ginger
1/2 medium onion (sliced)
veggies of your choice (I used thawed snap peas)
1 can of garbanzo beans
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon juice
2 teaspoons siracha
1 tablespoon of sugar
3/4 cup of light coconut milk
Cooked white rice

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Blueberry Gin Rickey?

I am getting tired of seeking out weekend happy hour deals in order to enjoy fancy cocktails at an affordable price on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  After trying out a new bar in our neighborhood called the "Gin Joint", where they make homemade tonics and simple syrups, I decided this was something I could attempt at home.  And it turns out that it's super easy.  Simple syrup is just a cup of water and a cup of sugar.  I decided to add a cup of blueberries to this concoction and came up with an amazing blueberry simple syrup that could be used to sweeten anything from Greek yogurt, to iced tea, to my personal favorite...your basic Gin Rickey cocktail.

In a small pot, bring 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water, and 1 cup of fresh blueberries to a boil.  Let it simmer about 12 minutes and use a wooden spoon to mash the blueberries a bit as it simmers.  Then strain out the blueberry skins (I reserved the skins and mixed them with my yogurt for an afternoon snack).  Add the juice from half a lemon to the mixture and refrigerate for up to two weeks. 

To make the Blueberry Gin Rickey:
2 shots of gin (3 ounces)
4 shots of club soda (6 ounces)
3 tablespoons of blueberry simple syrup
basil leaves for garnish


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cucumber Chickpea Salad

This weekend we went camping with a group of friends in the Shenandoah National Park.  We took the easy route and signed up to bring paper towels, foil and trash bags to escape having to make room in the cooler for anything other than adult beverages.  When I saw how much others were contributing to the campfire feast, I felt a little guilty and decided to create this simple, no-cook chickpea salad.  It was light and refreshing and disappeared within the first five minutes of opening it up at the campsite.

Mix together:
2 cans of garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 cups of grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 large red onion, chopped
Lots of parsley, chopped :)
1/4 cup of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar

Then just chill and serve!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Steak and Asparagus Salad

We have tried several local restaurant versions of this salad, but found that when we create it at home, it is just as tasty, and less than the $14 a mediocre restaurant would charge.  For those of you who live in DC, here are my top three restaurant versions in order of deliciousness - Busboys and Poets takes the cake, followed by Southern Hospitality, and Open City is a close third.  This is the perfect summer weeknight dinner and is easy to prepare inside or out!

2 top sirloin filets
1 bunch of asparagus (chopped into 2 inch pieces)
1 medium red onion (sliced)
olive oil
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Mesculun lettuce mix
1/3 cup of blue cheese (crumbled)
Salt and pepper

Sweet Balsamic Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 clove chopped garlic
1 teaspoon honey

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a hot pan.  Once heated, add sliced onion, then sprinkle with salt and brown sugar.  Stir the onion in the pan occasionally until the onions are caramelized (cook low and slow for at least 10 minutes).  Grill the steaks to medium rare and let them rest for 10 minutes, then slice them.  While Steaks grill, blanch the asparagus in a pot of boiling water for about 3-5 minutes, then drop into an ice bath. Pat dry, then season with salt and pepper.  Toss together with lettuce and crumble blue cheese on top.  Mix together the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad.

Makes two salads

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Berry Smoothie

Today the sun was beating in the windows and I was out of popsicles in the freezer.  I scanned the fridge and freezer for ideas of ways to quench my craving for something cold and refreshing. Suddenly, I remembered that I had a smoothie machine that my mom gave me back in college that I used to use for a plethora of alcoholic delights!  I am more of a milk-based smoothie fan versus the citrus, juice flavored variety.  I think its because I usually would rather opt for ice cream anyway.  Milk-based smoothies are usually pretty high in calories, but this one is a much healthier version.

I know this isn't the most appetizing picture in the world, but the taste will make up for it.

Here is what I threw in:
3/4 cup of frozen blueberries
handful of strawberries
1/2 cup of almond milk
2 tablespoons of Greek nonfat yogurt
5 ice cubes
1 packet of splenda

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Caramelized Onion, Mozzarella and Prosciutto Pizza

I have decided that these are my three favorite ingredients for a pizza.  This is a simple, lazy recipe that is so simple and lazy that I am not even going to type it all out as I do my other recipes.

Buy Pillsbury thin refrigerated pizza dough - its so tasty!  Pre-bake it at 375 degrees for five minutes.  Brush the crust with a little olive oil.  Sprinkle on some Mozzarella cheese, sprinkle on the caramelized onions (just Google how to caramelize onions if you don't know how), then pop it back in the oven for 7 minutes.  Take it out and drape the prosciutto over the top.  The hot pizza will warm the prosciutto. Have I mentioned that I LOVE prosciutto?  I also topped it with a little fresh basil from my abundant indoor window garden :)

Enjoy!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Prosciutto and Spinach Stuffed Chicken

My boyfriend and I went to fancy Italian restaurant last Friday.  The weather was so nice, we sat outside and decided to splurge on a twelve dollar appetizer which consisted of two pieces of asparagus wrapped in prosciutto.  Let me preface by saying that after our trip to Italy a couple of years ago, we have determined that prosciutto is probably the best food ever created.  When the lovely appetizer arrived to our table we were anxious to dig in.  He took his knife and sliced into the asparagus but the table was at a slight slant and the knife slipped sideways - the asparagus, prosciutto in tow, flew off the plate.  We both gave each other a disappointed look before having the same realization.  We quickly scanned the vicinity.  He reached down, grabbed it quickly and tossed it back on the plate.

I  adapted this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis - one of my favorite Food Network Stars.  She is so sweet, lovely and beautiful... sometimes I secretly I hate her - but her recipes are good and pretty fool proof.  AND IT HAS PROSCIUTTO!

Ingredients (serves 2):
2 chicken breasts
2 slices of prosciutto
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
3/4 cup of chicken stock
1/2 lemon
Teaspoon dried sage

Pound chicken breasts until they are about 1/2 inch thick.  Lay a slice of prosciutto on top of each breast.  Sprinkle mozzarella on top.  Season spinach with a little butter and plop on top of the cheese.  Roll the chicken breasts up and secure with toothpicks.  Heat a skillet with oil and add the chicken.  Cook for two minutes on each side to get a nice sear.  Add the chicken broth, lemon juice and sage, cover the skillet and let the chicken simmer for about 10 minutes on low/med heat.  Remove chicken to plates, remove the toothpicks, pour extra sauce over the chicken.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Light Veggie Risotto

Two vegetarian recipes in a row?  No, no, don't fret - this one's just a side dish.  We made this with some lobster tails for a romantic "let's cook together" night recently.  This risotto tastes so rich and decadent, it is so hard to believe that its light and healthy.  You can easily incorporate other veggies as well, or even add meat or fish.  This dish was a great project for the bf and made him feel really important.  Just give your man a wooden spoon and make him stir in the liquid.  It keeps him out of your way and he gets really into it  - "Babe, I am really getting the consistency just right, this is better than grilling."  There is something men really enjoy about hovering over a piece of meat, or in this case light veggie risotto, and knowing that they are in complete control of the final outcome. 


Ingredients:
6 cups of low sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 teaspoon salt
pepper 
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 pound steamed asparagus, chopped into 3/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup grated
Parmesan

Bring the broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Heat the oil in a pot and cook the onion. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly for about a minute. Add wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until the liquid is absorbed by the rice. Add 1 cup of the hot broth, the salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper and simmer, stirring constantly, until the broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding more hot broth, about a cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing the broth to be absorbed before adding more, until rice is almost tender and creamy-looking about 15-20 minutes. Add the peas first until thawed, then add the asparagus. Stir in the Parmesan at the very end.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Baked Spinach Falafel

So I know they are green, but don't be afraid, its just the spinach!  This recipe is so easy, healthy, cheap and delicious.  Guaranteed to please even your meat-loving man. Serve it with the tahini yogurt sauce recipe below and pile on top of warm naan or pita bread. 

1 can of garbanzo beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon flour
3 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)
1/2 cup chopped onion
handful of spinach, chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
juice of half of a small lemon
salt to taste

Combine ingredients in a food processor or blender until the consistency is right to roll into balls - you may need to add more liquid or flower.  Be sure to taste it to be sure the flavor is to your liking!  Refrigerate the mixture for about 15 minutes to make it less sticky and easier to handle. Roll into small balls (should make about 12) and place on a greased baking sheet.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden.  Serve on top of toasted pita bread or naan and top with tahini yogurt sauce (recipe below).

Tahini yogurt sauce - just mix together the following ingredients:
3/4 cup nonfat greek yogurt
lemon juice
1 tablespoon of tahini

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Happy Chicken

After a great fun, relaxing weekend, sometimes I get the Sunday blues.  I just feel sad and I can't explain why.  I think its a combination of the fact that it is no longer acceptable to drink wine before 4PM, I feel slightly guilty for the amount of food and alcohol I consumed on Friday and Saturday, and I have to get back to the boring weekly routine the next day.  Whenever you feel the Sunday blues coming on, my advice... ROAST A CHICKEN!

Roasting a chicken gives you back your control over the weekend.  It occupies your entire day.  And it gives you leftovers to take for lunch all week!

1 whole roasting chicken (I bought mine with the giblets already removed, cause removing giblets does not increase your likelihood of beating the Sunday blues.)
1/2 stick of butter
1 lemon (quartered)
1 onion (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 350.  Add a little water or chicken stock to a roasting pan (I don't have a roasting pan, so I just used a good old fashioned baking sheet.)  Temper your chicken - which means take it out of the fridge about 20-30 minutes before you start to cook it.  chop the lemon in quarters and chop the onion as well.  Stuff them inside the chicken with the cloves of garlic.  Melt the butter and mix it with the thyme, then rub it all over the chicken, even under the skin.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Cook the chicken depending on the weight and the packing instructions.  Baste the chicken every 35-40 minutes.  Be sure to let it rest before you butcher it and serve it.

Smokey Chili

I went for a long walk on the treadmill this morning in our apartment's basement gym.  It was just a little too chilly to walk outside - I am so desperate and anxious for Spring, but these chilly days keep sneaking their way in.  There is a crappy TV that hangs in the corner of the gym and when no one else is around, I watch the Food Network, naturally.  This chili is inspired by Rachel Rey's butternut squash hot pot chili.  Not to be a braggart, but this is one of the best dishes I have ever created.  Rach, thanks for spicing up my Sunday and for making me want to walk an extra mile to see the final dish!

Olive Oil
l butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons nutmeg
three Italian sausages, castings removed
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 medium zucchinis, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, roasted, seeded, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon crushed garlic paste
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 can black beans
2 cups chicken stock

Toss the butternut squash with olive oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and roast at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.  While the squash roasts, heat a pan with olive oil and cook the sausages (castings removed).  Remove the sausages to a plate to cool.  Add a little more oil to the hot pan, then add the onions and zucchini.  After about 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft, add the roasted red pepper (I just roasted the pepper on top of my gas stove burner until all sides were charred, then let it cool, then removed the skin and seeds and chopped it up).  Then add sausage back to the pan, followed by the seasonings and the diced tomatoes and black beans.  Finally, add the chicken stock and simmer, covered for about 30 minutes.

I served it with a dollop of sour cream and some crusty french bread - YUM!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Roasted Pork Tenderloin

2 (1lb.) pork tenderloins
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
3 cloves of minced garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all spices and herbs with olive oil to make a loose paste.  Spread over the pork tenderloins.  Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 155 degrees.  Let rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pasta Day!

My friend Jen and I set aside a Sunday afternoon to attempt to make homemade pasta.  I recently purchased an old-fashioned pasta maker because I am too cheap to invest in the version that attaches to your Kitchen Aid Stand Up Mixer, which was definitely a mistake and made the process much more difficult than it should have been.

We chose three recipes to try, a pumpkin ravioli with a butter sage sauce, a spinach ricotta ravioli, and a simple pasta with peas, asparagus and pesto.  It was quite the feast! I am not going to post the actual pasta recipes, because we want to work on perfecting them first.  But the cocktails were AMAZING!

1 part gin
2 parts champagne
Fresh lime juice
Fresh mint leaves








Panko Crusted Tilapia


This is great for an easy weeknight meal.  I use it on Monday nights when I have to set aside two hours of my evening to watch mildly insane women fight over a mediocre-looking guy - also know as The Bachelor.

2 tilapia fillets
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 lemon
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat broiler.  Mix together olive oil and lemon juice and drizzle over the fish.  sprinkle panko and Parmesan on top and broil for about 6-8 minutes.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pineapple Chicken Stir Fry

It's tough to get to the grocery store when you live in the city, don't own a car, and its 27 degrees outside.  My boyfriend normally drives me once a week, but it's just not as enjoyable like it used to be when I just shopped for one.  He eats so much!  Probably about three times the amount that I eat.  So by the end of my grocery shopping, the cart is nearly too heavy for me to push.  By the time I maneuver down the frozen isle, I look like a spaz with my arms outstretched and my Uggs slipping backwards.  This usually inspires me to purchase massive amounts of frozen vegetables in order to limit the number of grocery trips I need to make.  This meal was inspired by the few items I had left in the pantry after a two week hiatus from grocery shopping.  Canned pineapple and frozen stir fry veggies are extremely versatile - I will continue to keep them on hand :)

2 chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces
bag of frozen stir fry vegetables
1 can of pineapple slices cut into small chunks (reserve some of the juice for the sauce)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sweet and sour sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
brown rice

Place a skillet over high heat and add sesame oil.  Once hot, add chicken and saute for 5 minutes.  Add frozen veggies and pineapple and stir fry until heated through.  Mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, sweet and sour sauce, sesame oil and garlic and add to pan and stir.  Serve over brown rice.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Spinach Parmesan Stuffed Flounder

So I know this doesn't look phenomenal, flounder can be hard to handle because it is so thin and fragile.  But don't be fooled - the end product is absolutely delicious. 

1 cup chopped frozen spinach (thawed)
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 lemon (juiced)
salt and pepper
Four large flounder fillets
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon light butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix together the spinach, cheese, and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.  Lay flounder fillets on a foil lined sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Spoon spinach mixture onto each fillet and wrap the fillet around it - looks prettier if you rotate so that the wrapped part is underneath.  Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and a little more Parmesan cheese, and top with a small dollop of the light butter or margarine.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hummus and Pita Chips

My favorite snack, and always a crowd pleaser.  

Hummus:
2 cans garbanzo beans (drained, but reserve some liquid to add in case it is too thick)
1/3 cup of tahini
1/4 cup of lemon juice
4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon of salt
olive oil
paprika

Combine beans, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt in a food processor.  Blend until smooth and add liquid from garbanzo beans if needed.  Drizzle the mixture with olive oil and sprinkle paprika on top.


Pita Chips:
Pita bread sliced into triangles
1/3 cup of olive oil
garlic powder
salt
dried basil, dried oregano (or Italian seasoning)

Lay slices of pita bread on foil lined baking sheet (greased with cooking spray).  Mix olive oil and seasonings, brush mixture over the pita bread and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes (toss the chips at about 8 minutes into cooking time).

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chicken Fingers with Tangy Sauce

I am not going to lie to you and say that these taste just like the delicious, fried, bar version of chicken fingers, but they are pretty damn good on their own accord. 

For the chicken:
Strips of chicken breast
1 cup of nonfat milk
1 egg white
Seasoned breadcrumbs (I mashed up leftover dried stuffing cubes from Thanksgiving)
Cooking spray

For the dipping sauce:
2 tablespoons of BBQ store bought BBQ sauce
2 tablespoons of nonfat Greek yogurt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the  milk and egg white.  Create an assembly line - dip the chicken strips in the mixture, then in the breadcrumbs.  Place the chicken in a baking dish lightly coated in cooking spray.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Serve with the sauce on the side for dipping.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Soft Low-Cal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have had a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips eyeing me from my cabinet for months.  I was going to make the good-ole Nestle version of chocolate chip cookies because they are my absolute favorite.  But lately, my diet has consisted of rich, heavy foods, so I felt obligated to attempt a lighter version.  After reading through some low calorie/low fat versions online, I set out to make my own.  They are light, fluffy and taste much more fatty then they actually are!

3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons light butter (softened)
3 tablespoons almond milk (or nonfat milk)
1 egg white
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat together the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix together the baking soda, salt and flour separately. Beat together the two mixtures, then add the chocolate chips.  Spoon onto a nonstick baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes.