September 29, 2011

Pita Pizza - Round Two

Last night we were trying to determine what to have for dinner, and I rattled off a few things we had in the fridge to Mike. He then created a really awesome pizza out of leftovers from the fridge... you should really try this one!

Ingredients:
1 pita bread
Mozzarella cheese
Prosciutto
Red onion - about a tablespoon, diced
Truffle oil - just a drizzle over the top

Baked at 350 until all the cheese was good and melted, and the prosciutto was crispy.

September 28, 2011

Healthy Tomato Soup

This is a recipe I adapted from one of the many diet books we have all purchased over the years in an attempt to get motivated again. I didn't like the eating plan in this particular book because most of the recipes lacked protein, which I think is completely necessary if you don't want to faint in the middle of a meeting at work.

Ingredients:
1 cup of cooked chicken, diced - I used rotisserie chicken, lately my grocery store has been selling it pre-cooked, and pre-shredded so the work is already done!
1 (15 oz.) can of fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 white onion
2 celery stalks
1 bunch of kale - about 1/3 of a head of kale (it will seem like a lot until it cooks down)
1 handful of spinach
1/2 yam or sweet potato whichever you prefer (I used a yam because it's brighter in color)
2 and 1/2 cups chicken or beef stock - whichever you prefer or have on hand
Cayenne pepper - to taste
Cream cheese (I know, bad, but I had to) for garnish
Scallions for garnish
Olive oil

In 2 tablespoons of olive oil, cook the onion and diced sweet potato until the onion is translucent. Drain the can of tomatoes, and chop the celery and add them to the pot. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, saving the kale and spinach for last. Bring it to a boil, and then cover and put it on low. The soup is done when the sweet potatoes/yams are soft, about 10 minutes.


Delish!

September 27, 2011

Girl Math

I honestly and truly believe that girl math is one of the greatest things women pass on to one another. The theory is always if I eat this much of something good, then I can eat that much of something bad without the guilt. I never understand why there is guilt after eating something wonderful - whoever created that concept is the WORST. However, this recipe is the perfect solution.

Vegetables + chocolate = No guilt! (Girl math really is that easy!)

Chocolate Zucchini Cake was the order of the day. I made this on a day when I knew I would be seeing my parents - that way I could strategically drop off large chunks of it at each of their houses, knowing that it wouldn't go to waste.

Ingredients:

1 and 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups shredded zucchini - about one large one
1 bag of chocolate chips - I used semi-sweet

Preheat the oven to 350. Dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in the other. Combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until well mixed, adding about 1/3 of the bag of chocolate chips last. Pour into a greased 9 inch round pan, bake for about 25 minutes. The top will be brown, and a toothpick will come out clean.

Immediately after the take it out of the oven, pour the remaining chocolate chips in top of the hot cake. They will melt after a couple of minutes and you can spread them all over the cake.



... see girl math isn't so bad! :-)
*This recipe adapted from the flat belly diet cookbook

September 26, 2011

Asparagus and Prosciutto Pasta

Tonight I was craving asparagus and prosciutto, so I started digging up recipes and I just so happen to come across a pasta dish - pasta just so happens to be one of my favorite things on earth, so I happily chose this recipe. It hit the spot more than I thought it would, when you read off the ingredients it doesn't totally make you drool, but give it a try - it's good, I promise!!

Ingredients:
1 lb. pasta - I used a little less, which caused mine to be a little heavy on the sauce.
1 lb. asparagus
olive oil
1/4 lb diced prosciutto
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup white wine
3 egg yolks beaten
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons thyme - fresh is best for this dish
Parmigiano-reggiano cheese for sprinkling

Start cooking the pasta in one pot, making sure that the water is good and salty. In a skillet add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the prosciutto for a couple of minutes. Then add the garlic and wine and reduce for a couple of minutes on low. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before straining. Beat the egg yolks in a bowl, and add the reserved pasta water. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients, and toss until the sauce thickens slightly, and enjoy!

September 24, 2011

Ginger Tip

My mother is going to love this quick tip for leftover ginger. We have both purchased fresh ginger many times and then been disappointed when you pull it out to use it for another recipe a few days later and it's no longer good.

I was reading the latest issue of Rachael Ray's "Everyday" magazine and I came across this tip. Take the leftover ginger and peel it, then roughly chop it up. It doesn't have to be too small. Throw it in your blender with about 3/4 cup water and blend it up until it's relatively smooth. Pour the remainder into an ice cube tray and freeze it. Then you always have it the next time you need it!

I do not have an ice cube tray since our freezer is already equipped with an ice maker. So, I used those baby Tupperware pieces that I can never seem to find a good use for.


September 21, 2011

Paninis

Alright - I admit it, Mike is the sandwich KING. He is at his best in the kitchen when I think we have no food. It is when he comes up with some of the greatest sandwiches.

Here is his latest creation... tell me you don't want a bite!


I watched every minute of him making this to make sure I could attempt to replicate it later, and so you could try it at home! He cut the baguette and fried it in a pan until it was crusty on the inside. Then he added the roast beef, and layered on the cheese, then he nuked it until it was good and melted. Then he added the onions - about a tablespoon, added some mustard - to taste. Then he spread a light layer of horseradish on the top of the sandwich before topping the bottom half.

Ingredients:
French baguette
Red onion
Provolone cheese
Mustard
Roast beef
Horseradish

... it was seriously good. To make things a little worse, then I was craving a panini type sandwich, so I decided to make one of my own.Here is my version...


Same concept... I fried the baguette in olive oil, and preheated the oven to 350. When the bread was done, I added the meat and cheese and then put it in the oven until completely melted. Topped that with avocado slices, mayo and a little bit of mustard.

Ingredients:
French baguette
Ham
Pepperjack cheese
Avocado
Hellman's mayo - because there is nothing better :-)
Mustard

Then I decided that sun chips were necessary as a side item - garden salsa flavored, and a diet coke with lime. I was in heaven for just a few short minutes!


*I should mention that Mike took one giant bite of mine and decided it needed bacon. I ate the rest of the sandwich completely agreeing with him. He's that good! Try one, or both - they will hit the spot I promise!

September 20, 2011

Thai Chicken in Puff Pastry

This is one of Mike's favorite dishes that I make, and if you like thai food you will like it too! I even like making this one for him (because he likes it of course) but also because it's a good one to cut into smaller portions and freeze for later, which means he has a home cooked meal for lunch even when I'm not home!

Let me apologize in advance - there is no way to make this dish look as appetizing as it really is.

Ingredients:
1 puff pastry sheet

1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons peanut butter - I used crunchy this time
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 large chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1 cup of pineapple chunks
1/3 cup scallions
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce - optional, I just used it for the kick - you can use whatever you want or omit this ingredient

Topping:
1 egg
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Thaw the puff pastry sheet per the directions on the box. Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. When the puff pastry is ready, roll it out a little bit so it's a bit bigger and thinner.

Pour the mixture onto the puff pastry like this...


Fold it up and pinch the sides together all the way around. Mix the egg with 1 tablespoon water - this creates an egg wash, brush it all over the top. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until it's golden brown.

Here is what the final product looks like...



As I said, cut up whatever is leftover and freeze it for later!

*Recipe adapted from a Robin Miller recipe

September 19, 2011

Peking Chicken

Another good thing about the weather getting a bit colder is that busting out the crock pot is officially ok! I threw this one together and then met with our ceremony officiant for our wedding. I swear there is nothing better than coming home to a house full of delicious smells and warmth.

Ingredients:
1lb. bone in chicken thighs
1/4 cup soy sauce, I actually used Big Bowl's soy vinegar sauce (always using what I can)
3 tablespoons honey - I used agave nectar
1 bunch scallions - about 4 go into the crock pot, and about 3 are used as garnish
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil
olive oil
white rice

Lightly coat the chicken in olive oil, and then salt and pepper the chicken. Toss them into the crock pot. Add the soy, honey, 4 scallions, garlic, ginger and sesame oil over top. Turn on the crock pot and cook until done. (about an hour) Ours sat for about 2 hours, maybe a little longer. When I got home I quickly cooked up a pot of white rice, and served the chicken on top. Pour some juice over the top and garnish with the scallions.

*Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray

September 17, 2011

Fruit Pizza

Ok... so, this is not the classiest thing to make in the world, but it is beautiful and it's delish.

I had a couple of close girlfriends over, and their little munchkins so this was perfect for a side dish.

Ingredients:
1 tube of sugar cookie dough - use a little less than that so that the middle doesn't get too thick!
1/2 tub of cool whip
1/4 cup powdered sugar
An assortment of fruit in different colors: I use strawberries, kiwis, mandarin oranges, and blueberries.

Take the cookie dough out of the tube and literally smash it into a cookie sheet so that it's in a relatively round shape. I also thought (after the fact) that I could have made smaller individual ones.


While the cookie dough is cookie go ahead and cut the fruit you are going to use. Mix the powdered sugar into the cool whip. When the cookie has cooled, lay down the cool whip mixture, and re-arrange the fruit on top. Stick it back in the fridge, and cut it like a pizza when you are ready to serve it!

So pretty...


September 15, 2011

Caramel Cake

After college most of my close girlfriends moved out of state, each one searching for something different. This left me here on a very different path. I promptly joined a book club in order to meet new people my age - it's hard after college, and almost everyone I work with is old enough to be my parent - therefore, not interested in being my friend.

One of the first books we read when I joined was The Help, if you have not read this book - you need to!!

(Photo courtesy of the goodreads website - which I also love!)

When you read this book the mention of caramel cake is everywhere, it seemed like it was their prescription for "happy" in the book! I have been craving one ever since. So, here is my version of a caramel cake!

First I made my mother's grandmother's hot milk sponge cake.

Ingredients:
4 eggs
2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup milk
1 stick butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit into the bottom of the pan - this makes life a million times easier when you need to get it out of the pan later. Beat the eggs first until they are pale and fluffy, then add the sugar and beat again. Add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT for the milk and beat until well combine. Add the milk a little at a time, and beat the rest until combine. Scrape the bowl with a spatula and pour the batter into the pan. Bake at about 350 for roughly 45 minutes - test with a toothpick. When it's done run a knife around the outside edge of the pan and flip over onto a platter (one with a lip if you have it). It will look something like this...



Caramel sauce is NOT easy to make. You absolutely need a heat proof spatula in order to make it happen. I tried about three recipes before I found one I thought worked well for this.

Ingredients:
1 cup plus 1 tbsp. heavy cream
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp. corn syrup
1/2 vanilla bean

If you have never worked with a vanilla bean or don't want to you can use a tablespoon of vanilla extract instead. If you have just never worked with vanilla beans the deal is you will find about two of them in a glass jar in the grocery store - spice aisle. Cut one in half, and then cut that piece in half again, you then run your knife through the inside of the bean and all these little black bits of deliciousness comes out.



 Put all the ingredients into a heavy bottomed sauce pan, boil until all of the sugar has dissolved. It takes about 10 minutes, and you are going to need to use a spatula to keep the ingredients moving so that it doesn't burn. When it's done it will be thicker, darker, and it will have reduced to about half of the original amount.


Pour the caramel over the top of the cake - you want the caramel to be thinner to that it will soak into the cake. You are SUPPOSED to wait until the caramel sets a bit before having a slice... but, who does that!?

September 14, 2011

Rigatoni w/Sausage

Do you like cooking with wine!? Try this one! (It only has about 1/2 cup of red wine, but that counts as far as I'm concerned, and that gives me a reason to have a glass while I'm cooking!)

My future father in law owns a winery (how lucky am I!?) in Temecula, California called Danza Del Sol Winery. The first time we were down there visiting we decided to go wine tasting at a few other wineries in the area. The first three we stopped at I didn't find a single wine I liked. At the fourth stop I was relieved to find something drinkable! I leaned over to Mike and said "I actually like the wine here!" Mike's father overheard this and started laughing. I looked sheepishly in his direction and he said "I poached their winemaker!" so, at least everyone knew I wasn't just SAYING I liked the wine at his winery - I really meant it! I promptly joined the wine club, and what do you know the shipment arrived this morning! So, I decided to cook with one of the newest blends called "Trilogy" it is a very yummy addition to their selection... check it out here -- this is also where Mike and I will be getting married in a few short months.

Here is the final product...



Ingredients:
2 red peppers
1 small red onion
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. ground hot sausage
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine - I used more like 3/4 cup :-)
1 (28 ounce) can of fire roasted diced tomato
1/2 cup beef stock
1/2 box rigatoni pasta

Parmesan cheese and basil for garnish

Start by browning the sausage in the olive oil in a large pot. In another pot, salt the water well, and cook the rigatoni per the box instructions. Chop the red peppers, and the onion. When the sausage is browned, add the peppers, onions and garlic. Cook until the onions and peppers are soft. Then add the tomato paste and give it a good stir. Add the wine, and let it reduce for a couple of minutes. Then add the remaining ingredients and simmer until it has thickened. When the pasta is done reserve about a half cup of the starchy, pasta water and add it to the sauce. Then strain the pasta.

Plate the dish and garnish with basil and parmesan cheese.


Mike liked this one a lot! (He recently decided that sausage isn't so bad!)

*This was adapted from a Rachael Ray recipe and the dish feeds four if you use the whole box of pasta, since it's just the two of us I used only 1/2 box and I froze the remaining sauce for a rainy day!

September 13, 2011

Fall

Where did the time go!? Between buying our first home, and finally getting engaged this summer was over in a flash. Fall is my favorite season of the whole year. I love when the air gets all crisp and the leaves change colors!
 
Oh and.... pumpkin spice lattes... this was the first one of the season...

  ...and orange oreo cookies! I have a serious problem with oreos, so they are rarely in our house - my problem is that an entire row becomes a serving! My future husband thinks this is hilarious, because I will eat row after row, and then I proceed to complain about my stomach hating me. But seriously, how cute are the little witches on these?


I am also impatiently waiting honey crisp apples to arrive in the grocery stores!

I will also be taking this one on plenty of walks this fall. She has become a little escape artist as of late, today she took off for the third time since July, she manages to get out of her collar and down the road, or to the neighbors in just a couple of minutes flat, stinker!
 Until next time...

September 12, 2011

Sloppy Joes

This was adapted from a Rachael Ray recipe I came across, she always has a "guy food" section that Mike tends to prefer - there's always lots of meat in these recipes.

Ingredients:
1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 white onion
1/4 red pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cups crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
1 tbsp. vinegar
1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce

Mince the red pepper and the onion and cook in the olive oil until soft. Put the ground turkey into the pan, and slowly break it up as it cooks. Once it's brown, drain the grease from the pan. Add the remaining ingredients (I used both chili powder and cayenne pepper, only use both if you like kick) and heat through. Serve on a bun, with sweet potato fries, or tater tots, or even a ceasar salad.

September 8, 2011

Chocolate Crackles

This is a Martha Stewart recipe from her "Cookies" cookbook, and they are very dense, and very yummy. I only ever have two complaints about Martha recipes - they are putsy, and they always make a ton! This recipe makes about five dozen. So, my tip is to make them once, and divide the dough into a few Tupperware containers and freeze them. Then you can pull the dough out and make smaller batches whenever you want! (I learned this while living alone, I would make all five dozen and I would eat them all they would magically disappear!)

Ingredients:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk - I used vanilla almond milk - you can use whatever you have in the fridge
granulated sugar
powdered sugar

Run your knife through the bittersweet baking chocolate...
Melt the chocolate and set it aside to cool. Put all the dry ingredients in one bowl, and stir until it's combined. Add the brown sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla until well mixed. Finally, add the chocolate. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ones, adding the milk last. Mix until well combine. Put the dough into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. (or about the time that you complete the dishes you used and load them in the dishwasher!)

When you're ready take the dough out, and grab two small plates, cover one with granulated sugar, and one with powdered sugar. Using a spoon create a large ball of dough, roll it in your hands. Then roll it in the granulated sugar and then the powdered sugar. Push them down a bit so they flatten, bake at 350 for about 14 minutes. They will crack and be really pretty when they are done!



I ate one, ok maybe two... and then promptly delivered the rest to the neighbors who happily consumed them so I wouldn't have to! :-)

September 6, 2011

Peach Pastries

If you like peaches, you have to try these!!

Ingredients:
1/2 of a puff pastry sheet
3/4 cup cream cheese (I used the fake kind)
1 can of harvest spice peaches - if you have actual peaches slice them up and use them - I try to use what I have!
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Let the puff pastry thaw per the directions on the box. I cut this one in half before it fully thawed. Once it is up to room temperature, roll it out with a rolling pin. You just want it a little bit thinner. Then I cut it in half again. Mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a bowl. I folded the outside edges of the puff pastry over so it makes a square. Add the cream cheese mixture to the middle. Cover in peaches. Bake at 400 degrees for about 18-20 minutes until they are golden brown!)
 Ready to go in the oven...

Fresh out of the oven...

September 5, 2011

Penne w/Tomatoes and Greens

Quick and light pasta dish for "meatless Monday"... that's a thing, right? I'm trying to convince Mike that he doesn't need meat in every dinner I make.

Ingredients:
1/2 Box penne pasta
1 Tomato
5 Ounces (1/2 bag) fresh Spinach
Basil - to taste
Lemon juice - just a splash
Olive oil (about 3 Tablespoons)
2 Cloves of garlic

Cook the penne per the box instructions, and strain the pasta. Put the olive oil in the pan, and add the garlic. Saute for about a minute. Then add in the greens. When the spinach starts to wilt, add in the remaining ingredients. Heat through, and then add the pasta back in. I of course topped mine with parmesan cheese! Light and good!


September 3, 2011

Homemade Chicken Fingers

This is a relatively easy one - and one people tend to be amazed by. "You made your OWN chicken fingers!?"

Tonight I wanted to make something light, and I was craving ceasar salad. So, I pulled out a ceasar kit from the fridge, and decided to make chicken fingers for the top.

Ingredients:
Special K cereal - about 3/4 cup, crushed
1 Egg
Flour - about 3/4 cup
Chicken breasts - however many you want to make
Ceasar kit

I pound my chicken breasts to make them thin, this goes back to me not being very patient. So, if they are nice and thin, they cook up quicker! :-) Put each of the three ingredients on a plate. Take the chicken breast, and cover it in flour, then cover in egg, then cover in the special k cereal. Put in on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Mix up the ceasar kit while it's cooking up.




*If you get bored with the special k, try something fun like doritos on the next round!
 
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