Tuesday, April 26, 2011

*Asian Chicken Salad*

This is what I prepared for dinner tonight, we absolutely LOVED it!  Very light
& something different from your typical salad.  I highly recommend it. 

On another note, how about these AR storms??  I don't know about you, but I really wish I would have been on vaca ANYWHERE sunny the past 2 weeks.  I hope all of you & your families have stayed safe!!  

Salad Ingredients:
1 cup julienne/shredded carrots
3 cups shredded napa cabbage, frome 1 small cabbage
1 small red bell pepper, seeded & deveined, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 small rotisserie chicken, skinned & shredded
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted **
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
chow mein noodles for garnish
Romaine Lettuce 

Dressing Ingredients:
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar OR white vinegar
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the salad:  In a large salad bowl combine carrot, cabbage, red bell pepper, basil, chicken, almonds, & sesame seeds.

For the dressing:  In a small bowl whisk together the oil, low-sodium soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar until smooth.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Pour the dressing over the salad mixture & toss well.  Serve over a bed of romaine lettuce & garnish/lightly sprinkle with your chow mein noodles. 
(If you would like, you can shred the romaine & stir it in w/the salad mixture & then top w/the chow mein noodles)

**to toast your slivered almonds, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for ~8 minutes until lightly golden.  Cool completely.

I also think this would be delicious with the same veggies & dressing on top of greens with seared ahi tuna if you want to try that!

*Italian Brunch Casserole*

I made this casserole awhile back when we had friend stay with us, it was a nice twist on the usual breakfast casserole and I really enjoyed it!  I thought I had lost the recipe, but came across it last night and just had to share :)

MAKES 8 SERVINGS                                                                    
1 (8-ounce) package sweet Italian sausage (I used turkey sausage)
8 green onions, sliced (1 cup)
2 zucchini, diced (about 3 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 (7-ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped
1 (16-ounce) Italian bread loaf, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk

Remove and discard casings from sausage. 
Cook sausage in a large skillet, stirring until sausage crumbles & is no longer pink; drain.
Add green onions and next 3 ingredients to skillet. 
Sauté 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender. 
Stir in roasted bell peppers, drain & cool.
Spread 4 cups of bread cubes in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. 
Top with half each of the sausage mixture & cheese. 
Repeat with remaining bread, sausage, and cheese.
Whisk together eggs and milk. 
Pour egg mixture over bread. 
Cover and chill 8 hours.
Bake, covered, at 325° for 1 hour or until bubbly and hot.
This recipe is a Southern Living Recipe & has been rated w/5 Stars.

I served mine w/fresh fruit & baked breakfast bread.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

*Firecracker shrimp w/spaghetti & homemade vodka marinara*

Tonight Jay O. made dinner for me & this is what he prepared.  It was delish!  I have been wanting to try this firecracker shrimp recipe for some time now, it is definitely a keeper. I got this recipe off of the PW blog.

1 pound large (16 to 20 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined.
2 tablespoons sriracha hot chili sauce                                  
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
5 cloves garlic, pressed

Combine all ingredients in a large Ziploc bag. 
Add shrimp and marinate anywhere between 20 minutes & 3 hours.
Skewer shrimp and grill until opaque and brown, with black bits. We cooked ours for about 3 minutes per side.

 Vodka Marinara Sauce Directions:
Prepare this marinara sauce first & it will be combined w/the other ingredients for the vodka sauce:
Combine 3 tablespoons olive oil, 6 thinly sliced garlic cloves and a pinch of red pepper flakes in a large skillet and cook over medium-low heat until the garlic is golden, about 6 minutes. Crush a 28-ounce can of plum tomatoes into the skillet with your hands; rinse the can with about 1 cup water and add to the sauce. Add a handful of torn basil leaves and season with salt. Stir in 2 Tbsp sugar & 2 tsp nutmeg.  Increase the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until thick, 20 to 25 minutes. Toss with 1 pound cooked pasta (makes 4 cups sauce).

Vodka Sauce:
Cook 2 chopped shallots in a skillet with 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat, about 3 minutes. Add 3/4 cup heavy cream (I used 1/2 & 1/2), 2 cups perfect marinara sauce (see above) and a pinch of red pepper flakes; heat through. Stir in 1/4 cup grated parmesan and 1 to 2 tablespoons vodka; season with salt

Hoppy Easter!

These are some cute Easter treat recipes that I thought were adorable and just had to share!  The PW blog had a list of ideas from some of the blogs she likes and these 3 were my favorite.  I made a grocery list to get the ingredients for the chocolate Easter bark, but then decided against it :(  I figure the mac & cheese I am making for Easter lunch at my parents is indulging enough for one weekend!  Let me know if you decide to try any of them & how they turn out!

#1 Candied Popcorn 

#2 Easter Candy Bark 

#3 Easter Bunny Macaroons
click the blog titles to link to the recipes!

I hope all of you have a

Friday, April 22, 2011

Zuchinni, portobello, & feta quesadillas & a basic salsa recipe, too!

I made these quesadilla's last night for dinner.  They were tasty!  You can add or omit any ingredient you choose.  If you would like to add protein, this recipe would be really good with shrimp.  Considering the veggie tostada recipe called for the grill & the weather this week has been nothing short of miserable, I decided to whip this up instead!

Serving Size: 2 large Quesadilla's, serves 3-4 people
4  burrito sized flour tortillas
2 zucchini sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic
1 6 oz. pkg sliced portobello mushrooms
1/2 cup feta cheese
3/4 cup shredded Italian blended cheese
1 Tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
salt & pepper to taste
Serve w/fresh salsa, avocado (sliced) & light sour cream (all optional)

Saute zucchini, garlic, and portobello mushrooms in a skillet on medium heat in your olive or vegetable oil until cooked through, season w/salt & pepper.  
Sprinkle your Italian blended cheese on the top of each of your tortillas.
Evenly spread your veggie mixture on top of the Italian blended cheese.
Sprinkle your feta on top of the veggies.
Put your top tortilla on to make the quesadilla.
Serve with light sour cream, avocado slices & fresh salsa from your local market, or you can feel free to make your own if you'd like :)

Here's a basic salsa recipe if you choose to make your own: 
3 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 to 1 jalapeno, stemmed and minced with seeds
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 clove garlic, peeled & minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (if you'd like, add a little less EVOO & add in a little bit of lime juice)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, leaves and stems, divided
I used my quesadilla maker, if you don't have one & would like one you can purchase one HERE
If you do not have a quesadilla maker, bake in the oven on a baking sheet @ 400 for 4-5 minutes or until crisp.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Southwestern Steak Salad w/chipotle honey-lime vinaigrette

Last night my Aunt Kim stayed the night with us and this is what I prepared for din din.  We had smoked salmon with capers, crackers, and light cream cheese spread for appetizer, and this salad with garlic & herb focaccia bread for our entreeJay O. and I really enjoyed spending time with Aunt Kimmie!  Aunt Kim and I watched Idol after dinner and both love Casey Abrams...isn't he the best?!  This is actually the first season I have ever watched, it's kind of addicting!

1 pound skirt steak or flat iron steak (1/2 in thick), trimmed
course salt & ground pepper
2 hearts romaine lettuce, torn
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled & diced
1/2 cucumber, sliced & halved (or you can dice them)
cherry tomatoes, halved (however many you want:))
1 small red onion, thinly sliced or diced
feta cheese

Dressing Ingredients:
1 to 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo, minced + 1 Tbsp sauce from same can
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp honey
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
excess liquid from cooking the steak

*Heat a large skillet over medium-high; cut steak into 4 pieces and season with salt and pepper. Cook 2 1/2 - 3 minutes per side for medium-rare, or longer if you prefer. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil. Let rest 5 minutes, then thinly slice.
*Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss together lettuce, avocado, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. 
*In a small bowl, combine chile, chili sauce, lime juice, honey, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper. Gradually whisk in oil and any accumulated juices from steak. Pour dressing over salad and toss; add steak and toss again.
*We used about 1 Tbsp white wine when the steak was close to finishing so that there was more excess liquid & more flavor and added that to the dressing, too.
Original Martha Stuart Recipe here.
The only changes I made was adding 1 Tbsp of the chipotle sauce to the dressing for more flavor, feta cheese, and using white wine to add to the excess liquid from cooking the steak.
I chose to put together 3 individual salads instead of tossing it all together.  You can do whatever you'd like. If someone doesn't like tomatoes or a 
certain ingredient, this makes it a little easier to pick & choose ingredients 
for each one. The one thing I forgot was the avocado! I was going to wait & dice it when the salad was ready to serve so that it didn't brown 
while I was preparing the rest of the ingredients & I totally forgot :( 
Oh well, it was still yum!

Monday, April 18, 2011

*Baked Chicken Nuggets*

Tonight I made a healthy version of chicken nuggets, really not bad for you at all!  The recipe makes 4 servings & it is only 164.9 calories, & 4.6 g fat per serving.  It also has 22.1 g protein.  Jay O. & I ate half & there is still plenty for us to eat for another meal, too.  I got this recipe off of Gina's Skinny Recipe Blog.  And, for those of you who are on weight watchers or keep up with the points, 1 serving is only 4 points.

2 large skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into even bite sized pieces (16 oz.)
2 tsp olive oil
6 Tbsp whole wheat italian bread crumbs
2 Tbsp panko bread crumbs
2 Tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese
Olive Oil spray
Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425.  
Spray a baking sheet with olive oil spray.
Put the olive oil in one bowl AND the breadcrumbs, panko, & Parmesan in another bowl.
Season chicken w/salt & pepper.
Put all of the chicken into the bowl w/the olive oil & evenly/lightly coat all of the chicken.
Put a few pieces of the chicken into the breadcrumb mixture at a time to coat, then place on the baking sheet.
Lightly coat the top of the chicken w/olive oil spray then bake for 8-10 min.
Turn the chicken over & then bake for another 4-5 min. or until cooked through.

I served mine w/baked onion & baked spicy sweet potato fries.  To bake an onion, just peel the outside of a yellow onion, evenly cut it down the middle 4 ways w/out cutting all the way through & place it inside aluminum foil. Season w/your ingredients of choice.  I used Worcestershire Sauce, season all salt & pepper.  Bake at 400-425 for 30-40 min (depending on how large the onion is).
Very yummy & light!
For those of you who have not tried these, I HIGHLY recommend them.  You simply bake them for 20-25 minutes & they're delish!
You can find them in the organic section of Kroger or at a health food store. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

*Chicken Chilaquiles*

I made this tonight for dinner and we loved it!  And, it was simple which made me love it even more :)  

1Tbsp Olive Oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (28 oz.) whole peeled tomatoes, in puree
2 canned chipotle chilies in adobo, finely chopped, + 1 Tbsp adobo sauce (from the same can)
coarse salt
1 cooked rotisserie chicken, skinned and shredded 
1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves, chopped
whole wheat tortilla chips
1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream
1/4 cup reduced fat feta cheese

Combine oil and garlic in a large (3 to 4 quart) saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant.  About 1 to 2 min.
Pour tomatoes into the saucepan (breaking tomatoes up), chipotles and adobo sauce, & 1 cup water.  Bring to a boil; season with salt.  
Reduce heat and simmer rapidly until lightly thickened, 6 to 8 minutes.
Add chicken and cook, stirring, until hot.  About 1 minute.
Remove from heat, stir in chopped cilantro.
Divide chips into the bottom of each shallow bowl; top with chicken mixture and sauce.  Garnish with cilantro sprigs, a dollop of light sour cream & feta. 

I hope you enjoy!!!

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

My favorite thing to pick up for a quick lunch is Boulevard Bread's Mediterranean Tuna salad sandwich w/lettuce & tomato.  I made this recipe attempting to come close to theirs and came pretty close.  I think the main difference was I used light white tuna in water and not regular b/c mine wasn't quite as rich in flavor.  But, I still REALLY liked it!  Here's what I came up with:

2 12 oz. cans tuna
1/2 red onion, diced
3 celery stocks, diced
4 Tbsp capers (or as many or few as you'd like)
1 6 oz. jar artichokes, sliced
4 Tbsp lemon juice
4 Tbsp Olive Oil (I used a lemon flavored olive oil we had at the house to add flavor)
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar (would be good w/balsamic, too)
coarse salt & ground pepper to taste
AND, at the end I added about 1 Tbsp of light mayo to bring it all together.  Light mayo is not necessary though!

Okay, I made this recipe for the SECOND time yesterday & liked it much, much more.  The difference was I used 1 can of Light Tuna in Vegetable Oil + 1 can Light Tuna in Water.  Then I used Kraft Light Mayo made with Olive Oil to my desired consistency (prob about 1/3 cup) & drizzled red wine vinegar over the top & stirred to combine + squeezed the lemon.  All of the other ingredients were the same, I just didn't use actual olive oil...instead I substituted the Olive Oil Light Mayo.  Whatever you have on hand will work :))

This recipe is great to make ahead of time to eat during the week for lunches!  I made mine w/whole wheat pita bread, lettuce, & tomato.


I am making my grocery list for the next couple of days and thought I would share a few recipes I will be trying this week.  I am really hoping they're blog worthy and I will be sharing them with you very soon.  I am only getting enough groceries for a few nights, b/c we plan on trying out a new Korean restaurant that's opening on Wednesday close to our house.  We are hoping it will be a new local favorite!  The 3 recipes below all come from the talented Martha.

 Recipe #1
Chicken Chilaquiles

Recipe #2
Grilled Vegetable Tostadas
w/fresh tomato salsa

Recipe #3
Southwestern Steak Salad
w/honey lime vinaigrette 

I am also going to make my best attempt at mocking Boulevard Bread's Mediterranean Tuna Salad, my favorite thing in the whole wide world!
 I will let you know how it turns out & hopefully share that, too:) 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

*Asian Style Salad w/Rotisserie Chicken*

My mother-in-law is in town for her best friends daughter's wedding we are going to this Friday :))  Last night I prepared this salad and served it with multi-grain bread.  I was surprised to see the salad dressing was the exact same as the salad I made last week, but I loved it so much I didn't mind!  With all of the different ingredients in the salad, it didn't seem the same one bit.  But if you'd like I added a basic garlic vinaigrette recipe, too!
Salad Ingredients:
*1 rotisserie chicken w/skin and bones removed, shredded (about 4 cups)
*1/4 medium red cabbage,thinly sliced
*1 red bell pepper (ribs & seeds removed), thinly sliced
*1/2 red onion, diced
*1 large head romaine lettuce, torn
*1/2 cup cashews (I did 1/2 cashews, 1/2 almonds b/c that's what I had on hand)
*1 handful bacon pieces or turkey bacon pieces
*1/2 container feta cheese
you can add, omit, or substitute any of the above ingredients.
Picture by marthastewart.com  My picture didn't turn out nearly as pretty!

Dressing Ingredients:
2 cups fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil OR vegetable oil               
Coarse salt and ground pepper

OR if you just want a basic vinaigrette dressing:
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
kosher salt and ground white pepper

Make dressing: In a blender, combine cilantro, lime juice, and oil; season with salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. (or do the same for the basic vinaigrette)

In a large bowl combine chicken, cabbage, romaine, bell pepper, red onion, & feta; season with salt & pepper.  In another large bowl, toss lettuce with 1/2 cup dressing.  Divide the salad onto 4 plates and top with chicken mixture.  Drizzle salads with remaining dressing and sprinkle the top with your cashews and almonds.

I got this recipe from Martha Stewart but added a few ingredients that I thought would make the salad more complete :)  She called it the Asian Rotisserie Chicken Salad, but it didn't seem very asianesque to me w/the cilantro in the dressing, etc.  Maybe the cabbage?  Let me know what you think!

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Happy Birthday to me :))

    My birthday was last Friday on April 8th.  My parents took Jay O. & I out to celebrate with a nice dinner at Ashley's at the Capitol.  My grandmother Gin-gin hosted my bridal luncheon there, and I've eaten at the Capitol Bar quite a few times but I had never dined at Ashley's...it was quite the treat!  

    I took pictures of some of the delicious food that was prepared by Chef Lee Richardson  who recently won the people's choice award for best new chef in the MidWest.  The competition was put on by Food & Wine magazine.  After tasting the delectable first courses & entree's I would say he more than deserved the prize. 

    Please keep in mind I took these pictures with my iPhone, so they really don't give the food's presentation justice.  And, considering my iPhone doesn't have a flash it didn't help that it was dark.  I think I should start carrying my actual camera.  Dontcha think?

     They even had my name at the top of each menu :)
    I had the snails for an appetizer
    This picture has a thin cracker on top that is easily broken to eat w/the snails
    Picture of snails without the cracker
    Diver Scallops with grilled onion & hollandaise puree for my entree
    I said I didn't want dessert b/c the next day was my "actual" birthday & I knew I would have cake then 
    (plus I chose to have a glass of champagne instead;))
    So, they brought out a plain white plate with "Happy Birthday" written out in cursive with chocolate & a candle glued to the plate.  Pretty clever!  
    And, considering I am not a huge sweets person, it was perfect.
     My Dad & Jay O. got “The Egg”: Milk Chocolate Pot de Crème with Caramel Foam and Sea Salt for their dessert.  I had a bite & it was amazzzzing.
    Sorry, this one was extra blurry. 
    And then, they rolled up my menu & tied it with a bow :)

    Thank you Mom & Dad!  I thoroughly enjoyed it!!! 
    Love y'all.