Tuesday, July 23, 2013
One of my favorite go-to, weeknight recipes is on Ebony.com! I make fried rice all the time, but one night I had leftover brown rice and decided to give it a whirl. It came out equally as delicious and I felt less guilty eating it because I knew that the brown rice bumped up the fiber, in addition to the peas and carrots that were already in it. And I chose shrimp for this recipe because it cooks quickly, easily making this a 20-25 minute meal, but if you prefer chicken or beef in your fried rice DO IT! Or leave out the protein all together and serve this as a side dish. The possibilities are endless!
And usually I include a picture tutorial on my blog but I'm sad to report that my last cell phone was destroyed; leaving me with hardly any food pictures from the last few months. But I can confidently say that this recipe is full proof. Alot of times, I'll post a recipe and be nervous that I screwed up the measurements, or left something out. But not this one! It's so simple and easy, I know you will love it! The link is below. Enjoy!
Thursday, June 27, 2013
In the Weight Watcher's Cookbook the recipe is titled "Chocolate Almond Ice Cream Cake" and they instruct you to use light chocolate ice cream sandwiches, fat free whipped topping, and chocolate covered almonds. Once you put the cake together they say that 1 slice is 5 weight watcher's points so if you're counting, do it their way.
I, however, am not counting and when I made this for our Father's Day gathering, I used full fat ice cream sandwiches and cool whip and this cake was a hit! I am posting the recipe, not to take credit, but because a few people asked me how to make it and also because I loved how I didn't have to bake anything. In the summer having the oven going can be brutal so I loved how this was an oven free process that resulted in a cool refreshing dessert that kids and adults loved. It would be perfect for your 4th of July celebration! Enjoy!
Ingredients (makes 12-15 slices):
15 Square Ice Cream Sandwiches
1 (12 oz) Container Cool Whip
Chocolate Syrup, for drizzling
This cake needs some type of crunch and there are so many options to incorporate texture. Your crunchy ingredients can include (but are not limited to): Chopped Heath Bars (pictured), Any Chopped Chocolate Bar, Chopped Peanuts or Almonds, Chopped Chocolate Covered Peanuts or Almonds (try Dove brand), Mini-Chocolate Chips, Sprinkles, or Crushed Chocolate Chip Cookies. Choose one or use a combination.
Arrange 5 ice cream sandwiches side by side on a serving platter. Using a spatula, spread a layer of cool whip (about a 1/2 inch thick) over the sandwiches, covering them completely on the top. Then drizzle chocolate syrup over the whipped cream and sprinkle a generous about of your crunchy ingredient over the syrup. Repeat this process one more time and then top with the final 5 ice cream sandwiches. Cover with saran and freeze for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, simply spread the remaining cool whip over the top and sides of the cake, covering the ice cream sandwiches completely. Finish with a final drizzle of chocolate syrup and sprinkle a little more of your crunchy ingredient on top. Cover with saran again and freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Like with any cake, when ready to serve, simply slice it up evenly. Cover and freeze any leftovers.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
With $25 in cash I'd just received from selling popcorn, I went to my local grocery store and managed to pull off a fabulous dinner. Unlike Carrabbas, MY steak was seasoned to perfection, juicy and delicious and it even reheated nicely! So I figured I would share this meal to show you all that an amazing steak dinner can be achieved on a budget and in a fairly healthy way. Some folks believe that red meat isn't part of a healthy diet but flank steak is very lean and this whole meal was filling and low calorie.
So scroll below to see the recipes. I included prices of the groceries that I purchased that day, to illustrate how affordable everything was. And any ingredients that do not include a price are the ones that I already had in my pantry. Oh and that Chimichurri was absolutely perfect (if do I say so myself!). There are a million recipes for the Argentinean sauce but my recipe came together with what I had on hand and it was SO GOOD! And the leftovers would be amazing on any protein. Enjoy!
For the Steak
1.5-2 lb Flank Steak - $12.95
2 tbsp Chili Powder
2 tbsp Kosher Salt
1 tbsp Coarse Black Pepper
2 tsp Dried Oregano
2 tsp Onion Powder
Two Large Handfuls Fresh Parsley Leaves - $1.50
Two Large Handfuls Fresh Cilantro Leaves - $1.50
2 Garlic Cloves
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
2 tbsp Capers
2 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sauteed Corn & Red Peppers
2 tbsp Butter, divided
1/2 a Red Bell Pepper, diced -$1.00
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1 Bag Frozen Corn - $1.50
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1 tsp. Smoked (or regular) Paprika
Sauteed Hericot Verts (French Green Beans)
1 tbsp. Butter
1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Small Shallot, diced - $0.85
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1 Bag Fresh Hericot Verts - $3.69
Grand Total - $22.99 + tax!! You see, $25 can go really far when you buy affordable cuts of beef and keep your kitchen stocked with the Essentials!
To prep the steak, combine the chili powder, salt, pepper, oregano, and onion powder to make a rub. Then, like the name says, rub the seasonings on both sides of the steak and set aside until ready to grill (at least 15 minutes).
Next make the Chimicurri sauce by simply adding the cilantro, parsley, garlic cloves, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, capers, and vinegar to a food processor (this is a good job for a mini-chopper if you have one). Pulse a few times and then blend while streaming in the 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Stop blending and taste for seasoning and a "sauce like" consistency. If it's too thick, stream in more evoo. Pour chimichurri into a bowl and set aside.
Now set up two sauté pans. In one, melt the butter and once bubbling, add in the diced red pepper and sauté until slightly soft (about 3-4 mins). Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Then add in the bag of frozen corn, stir to combine, and cook on medium low heat until the corn has defrosted and been heated through. When ready to serve, stir in salt and pepper to taste, transfer to a serving bowl and top with smoked paprika.
Meanwhile, using a fork, poke a few holes in the bag containing the hericot verts and microwave on high for 3 minutes to get them going. Then, in the other sauté pan, melt the butter, add in the olive oil and, once hot, add in diced shallots and sauté until soft. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds before adding the partly cooked hericot verts. Sauté until the green beans have absorbed the oils and have slightly caramelized. Then, remove from the heat until ready to serve.
To cook the steak, heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to high. Once the grill is screaming hot, add the steak and cook for 5 minutes on each side for medium doneness (warm pink center). Remove steak and allow to rest for 5-7 minutes (see left).
To serve, slice steak at an angle, top with chimichurri sauce and serve with sauteed corn and hericot verts.
Saturday, June 8, 2013
It’s very rare that I experiment in the kitchen and get it right on the first try. But this meal...I went in the kitchen with a vision and managed to create one of the best dinners I’ve made in a while. So I had to share this with you guys!
I was inspired to make this meal when a Chef that I follow on Instagram posted a picture of a Panko Crusted Salmon that was on the menu at his resturant. It looked oh so beautiful to me! And even though the panko on his salmon looked golden and delicious, it also looked kind of plain. So when I decided to recreate his dish, I knew I wanted to season the bread crumbs with plenty of fresh herbs.
I also wanted to make roasted potatoes for a side and I thought about using a lipton onion soup packet that I had on hand. This is what my Mom always used but when I looked at the nutritional information and saw the massive amounts of sodium, I decided to season the potatoes myself. I used pretty much the same ingredients I was using in the salmon and everything came out perfect.
Though I must say that this salmon doesn’t really re-heat well. L Yes, this kills me, because I cook for leftovers, but I still have to recommend you make this because it’s that good. And it’s a lovely new way to enjoy Salmon. I loved how the panko gave everything on my plate a crunch. In fact, I would serve mashed potatoes with this next time but my roasted baby reds were so yummy I wanted to throw that recipe out there for now. Plus, I mentioned in my weeknight cooking tips, how much I enjoy throwing everything in the oven, and this meal does exactly that, and is ready in no time.
One last thing! For the experienced cooks: I try to give exact measurements on this blog, but you don’t have to measure the seasonings in this dinner. When I was making it, I put “a little bit of this and a little bit of that,” tasted constantly and I encourage you to do the same. Enjoy!
Ingredients (makes 4 servings):
For the Fish:
1 ½ lb. Salmon Filet, cut into 4 portions
1 tbs. Butter
1 tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Pepper
½ tsp. Garlic Powder
½ tsp. Paprika
½ Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1 tbsp. Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 tbsp. Thyme Leaves
1 tbsp. Rosemary, chopped
(Note: I put all the fresh herbs in a pile and run my knife through all of it but technically the thyme leaves could stay whole.)
For the Potatoes:
3 cups baby red potatoes, sliced in ½
3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. Rosemary, chopped
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. paprika
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with foil and spray one lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Cut the baby red potatoes in half and toss onto the non-greased pan. Then in a small bowl, melt the butter in the microwave add in the salt, pepper, rosemary, onion powder and paprika. Stream in the tablespoon of evoo while whisking vigorously. Pour butter/oil mixture over the potatoes and toss until all potatoes are coated. Place potatoes on the bottom rack in the oven and set timer for 40 minutes.
For the fish, place fillets onto the other, lightly greased baking sheet. Then, prepare the butter/oil mixture the same way as the potatoes: melt butter in the microwave, add in seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika) and stream in oil while whisking vigorously. Brush a generous amount of the butter mixture (about half) over the fish. Then toss the panko bread crumbs in with the remaining oil. Add in the chopped, fresh herbs and mix together. Lastly, sprinkle seasoned bread crumbs over the filets to create a thin, even layer on top and place pan on the top rack in the oven.
Now would be a good time to give the potatoes a quick toss. The salmon needs to cook for 20 minutes but check it halfway through. If the bread crumbs seem to be getting a little too golden, just swap them with the potatoes for the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Serve potatoes and salmon fresh from the oven with your favorite “house” salad.
Friday, May 3, 2013
Cinco De Mayo is Sunday and I just wanted to share a few recipes for anyone who may be entertaining or simply trying to be festive. I, like most people, happen to love Mexican food so these recipes weren't written with May 5th in mind. But they're perfect for the holiday and if I was entertaining this Cinco De Mayo, I would definitely make one, if not all of these!
Why am I not hosting a taco and tequila filled fiesta this Sunday? Well, I've discovered that all of my entertaining has put a slight strain on my budget so I need to chill for a bit. AND one of my friends invited me out to a party. And I need some fun! So YES I will be partying but NO I won't be cooking. Which is why I'm posting some recipes in the hopes that YOU will do the cooking. ;-)
However, I only have a handful of Mexican recipes (all amazing though). First is my Healthy Fish Tacos that I wrote recently for Ebony.com. The beauty of this one is that inside that recipe is a Pico De Gallo recipe and a Cilantro-Lime Cole Slaw recipe in addition to the tacos. So you get 3 Mexican inspired dishes in one!
Then there's my Seafood Guacamole w/ Baked Tortilla Chips. The tortilla chips are a fun snack to make, especially with little ones! And the seafood guac is so good, that is becoming my signature dish among my family and friends. It is TO DIE FOR. Especially if you love seafood. But if you don't, I've included a classic "semi-homemade" Guacamole recipe as well.
Make one or make them all!
Healthy Fish Tacos w/ Cilantro-Lime Slaw & Pico De Gallo
Seafood Guacamole w/ Baked Tortilla Chips
Friday, April 26, 2013
It's so very rare that I make a dish I love and get the recipe on here this quickly. But this shows how incredibly amazing this dinner was because here I am posting the recipe for a dish I made on Tuesday!
See Tuesday was my Dad's birthday. He decided he didn't want to go out for dinner and since I needed to test a dessert recipe anyway, I thought I would go out to my parent's and treat my Mom and Dad. I went to their local Wegmans after work with every intention of making a pasta primavera (which will get tested at some point this weekend) but once I picked up a beautiful pack of asparagus, I thought about bacon wrapped asparagus. THEN (I guess my mind was in overdrive) I thought about a wonderful Rachel Ray dish I made YEARS ago where I wrapped the asparagus in chicken. So then I thought, why not combine the two? Wrap the asparagus in chicken and then wrap that in bacon!
This sounded way better, and of course more decadent, than my pasta dish, so I got the ingredients, drove to my parent's house, got busy and had this ready in under 45 minutes. My mom even commented on how fast the meal came together. AND my mom even said it was the best dinner she's had in a long time!
So scroll below to see how I did it. And also check out Rachel's Recipe. I didn't consult it once while cooking on Tuesday and yet my version came out almost the same, but with a few important additions. Bacon being the best one! Also, this is a pretty budget friendly dish, especially since asparagus is in season and cheap, so make this ASAP!
Ingredients: (makes 4 servings)
1 Bunch Fresh Asparagus, woody ends trimmed
2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Lemon Pepper Seasoning
8 Thick Slices Havarti Cheese, plain or with dill (Sharp White Cheddar works as well)
4 Strips Thick Cut Bacon
1 Small Onion or Large Shallot, chopped (about a 1/2 cup )
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1 tbsp Flour
1 Cup Chicken Stock
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon chopped Fresh Parsley (dried works too)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bring a large pot of water to a boil (make sure the pot's wide enough for your asparagus to fit). Meanwhile fill a bowl with cold water and add 5-10 ice cubes as well. Once water is boiling, add about 2 tablespoons of salt and then add your trimmed asparagus. Boil for about 2-3 minutes, and then using tongs, transfer asparagus into the ice bath. Then, drain the asparagus and set aside.
Next prep the chicken by slicing each breast in half horizontally through the middle. Then, after placing each breast between 2 pieces of saran, use a rolling pin to pound out each breast to about 1 inch thickness. Arrange each breast flat on your cutting board. Lightly sprinkle each breast with lemon pepper seasoning and then place two thick slices of cheese right in the middle. (In the picture you may note that my slices are pretty thin, and unfortunately the flavor got lost, so I would double the thickness)
Then place, 4-5 asparagus spears on the end of each breast, and gently, but tightly, roll each breast so that the asparagus and cheese are neatly tucked in the middle. Then, sprinkle the outside with a bit more lemon pepper and wrap 1 piece of thick cut bacon around each breast.
Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet until almost smoking. Then place each chicken bundle, SEAM SIDE DOWN in the pan. Allow to cook until brown, about 5 minutes and then flip over to cook for 5 minutes on the other side. You will know the bundle is ready to turn when it releases easily. If it sticks to the pan when you try to turn, it's not ready yet! Do NOT try to force it, because your bundles may fall apart.
Once bundles have been seared on both sides, transfer to an over safe dish and place in your preheated oven to finish cooking (about 20 minutes). Meanwhile, prepare your pan sauce in the same pan you cooked your chicken in. Add another tablespoon of olive oil, then add the onions to the pan and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for a minute more. Sprinkle flour over onion and garlic and cook for a few seconds and then add in your chicken stock, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the dijon mustard, bring to a simmer and allow to thicken slightly for a few minutes. Once thick, remove from the heat, stir in butter, lemon juice, and parsley to finish.
To serve, remove chicken bundles from the oven. Spoon about 2-3 tablespoons of sauce on each plate and top with a bundle. For extra special presentation, slice bundles down the middle to showcase the beautiful center (as pictured above). Also, roasted fingerling potatoes made a great side dish! You can see those pictured below with the pork free bundle for my dad.