Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Whole Wheat Linguini with Peas and Herbs

One of Jason's favorite vegetables are peas, so when I saw this recipe that had them as a main ingredient I just had to try it. The sauce has a really refreshing flavor from the brightness of the lemon zest combined with the fresh herbs. I always enjoy being able to use the tons of fresh basil and other fresh herbs we have in our herb garden. While there are peas in the pasta and in the sauce I didn't get a ton of the pea flavor unless I had a whole pea in my bite. And for me, the best part is that we were able to use our new pasta dishes that our friends got us for our wedding! I am loving having yet another excuse to use all of our new presents!

Whole Wheat Linguini with Peas and Herbs
Serves 4

1 pound whole wheat or whole grain linguini or spaghetti
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 cups shelled spring peas or 2 cups defrosted frozen organic peas
1 teaspoon sugar
Finely ground pepper
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup tarragon leaves, chopped
1/2 cup mint, finely chopped
1 lemon, zested
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Heat a pot of water to a boil for pasta, once boiling salt water and cook pasta to al dente.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet with olive oil, over medium heat, add butter to oil and melt, add onions, garlic and cook to soften 5-6 minutes.

In a saucepot, bring chicken stock to a boil. Drop the peas into the stock and cook for 5 minutes. Remove half the peas and add to the skillet. Sprinkle with sugar, salt and pepper and let cook for another 2-3 minutes.

In a food processor, add parsley, tarragon, mint, lemon zest, remaining peas, and stock. Process until combined.

Just before draining pasta reserve a cup of starchy cooking water, in case sauce is too thick.
Drain pasta and add to peas, add herb mixture and toss vigorously for 1-2 minutes. Top with cheese and serve.

Source: Rachel Ray Show

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Turkey burgers and Steak fries

While September is lurking, it is still summer and hot out which means it is still grilling season! I have a feeling that it is always grilling season here in Florida. We use ground turkey  for most recipes as a healthier alternative to ground beef. Normally, we just season with pepper and throw the burgers on the grill. This was a nice change with a lot of fresh flavors.  A common problem with turkey burgers is that they get dried out, by adding the olive oil it really helped keep the burgers moist. And you can't have a burger without fries! I had a potato left in the fridge that we cut up and seasoned. Be sure to start the fries first since they take longer to cook than the burgers.

Turkey Burgers
Yield: 4 burgers
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb ground turkey
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
1/2 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
1/2 Tbsp. minced fresh sage
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

Add the ground turkey, salt, pepper and herbs to the bowl.  Mix well so everything is evenly blended.  Mix in the remaining 1 Tablespoon olive oil.  Form the mixture into 8 equal sized patties.  

When you are ready to grill, oil the grates of the grill with additional olive oil or vegetable oil. Cook until evenly browned and cooked through, about 4-6 minutes per side.  Serve with toasted buns, lettuce, and condiments as desired.

Adapted from: Annie's Eats

Oven Steak Fries

5 russet potatoes, cut into thin wedges
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme, eyeball it
1 teaspoon dried oregano, eyeball it
1 Tablespoon steak seasoning blend, or, salt and pepper

Directions:Preheat oven to high. Cut potatoes and spread out on a cookie sheet. Coat potatoes with extra-virgin olive oil, dried herbs and steak seasoning or, salt and pepper. Spread potatoes to the corners of the cookie sheet. Cook potatoes in very hot oven 25 minutes. Turn potatoes once, half way in the cooking process to avoid burning. Serve fries hot from the oven.

Source: Rachel Ray - 30 Minute Meals

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Oatmeal Blueberry Applesauce Muffins

I had some left over blueberries that I wanted to use up before they went bad. I looked on some of my usual blogs for ideas for a new and healthy recipe. I have been trying to use applesauce instead of oil to eliminate some fat in recipes so this one seemed like a perfect fit, plus I already had all of the ingredients except buttermilk in the house. Usually I prefer buttermilk was was too lazy to venture to the store for some. I found online a way to substitute regular milk for buttermilk. Take the 1/2 cup of regular milk (in this case I used skim milk) and add 1/2 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to it. Stir together and let it sit for 2 minutes until the milk becomes acidic and curdled. I did this before starting the recipe so that it could sit while  I measured everything out and came to the wet ingredients.

I really enjoyed the hearty texture and flavor the oatmeal gave the muffins and yet somehow it was not a heavy or dense muffin. Despite being low fat and whole grain they are extremely moist and flavorful with a hearty texture.

Oatmeal Blueberry Applesauce Muffins
Yield: 12-14 muffins

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups oats
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  In another bowl combine the applesauce, buttermilk, brown sugar, oil and egg.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and add in the applesauce mixture.  Stir together just until all dry ingredients are incorporated.  Gently fold in the blueberries with a rubber spatula.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups until 2/3 full. Note that the batter is on the thicker side. I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop it out. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

Nutritional Information: (Calculated on Sparkpeople)
Calories: 128; Total Fat: 3.2g; Cholesterol: 13.6mg; Sodium: 140mg; Total Carbohydrates: 26g; Fiber: 2.5g; Sugars: 12g; Protein: 3g

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Perfect Marinade for Grilled Chicken

We went to our friend's house for a kebab party a few weeks ago and Jason kept raving over the chicken. Since that is one of his main food staples I had to get the recipe. too bad it has taken me a while to finally make it. By poking holes in the chicken with a fork and allowing it to marinade for a few hours it really allows the flavor to be absorbed making the chicken moist, juicy and full of flavor. The brown sugar makes it a little sweet but the balsamic vinegar and soy balance it out. This is definitely a recipe we will keep. We grilled some yellow summer squash but you can have this with any grilled vegetable or corn on the cob.

Perfect Marinade for Grilled Chicken

1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup Olive oil
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons Sesame Oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
up to 4 lbs of chicken

Whisk together all ingredients until the sugar has dissolved. Poke your fork into the chicken to help it absorb the marinade. Place the chicken and marinade in a big ziploc bag and leave in the fridge for about 2 hours.

Preheat the grill, add chicken and grill until cooked through.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Barbecue Pork Sandwiches

I love pulled pork sandwiches but have never made them. I don't have a slow cooker yet and always thought it was an all day affair. That is of course until I found this recipe from Real Simple. You actually use pork tenderloin instead of the standard pork shoulder so it is a much healthier cut of meat. And you can use a covered saucepan and be done in less than an hour! The original recipe says 20 minutes but it definitely took longer to cook, more like 30-45 minutes but that is not bad. Jason said he could eat this every night so it must be good and definitely a keeper.

Instead of the standard coleslaw and chips for the sides we made these adorable roasted mini carrots and blue potatoes. The color combination was beautiful and bright, and they tasted pretty good too! We mixed them with olive oil, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and some fresh rosemary. Throw them on a cookie sheet and bake at 450 for about 20 minutes or until fork tender.

Barbecue Pork Sandwiches
Serves 4

¼ pound pork tenderloin, cut crosswise into 4 pieces
1/2 cup 
barbecue sauce (We used Cattlemen's Master Reserve Kansas City Classic)

1 Tablespoon 
cider vinegar

hamburger buns, split


  1. Place the pork, barbecue sauce, vinegar, and ¼ cup water in a medium saucepan and simmer, covered, until fork-tender, 30-45 minutes.
  2. Shred the meat and serve on buns with coleslaw, pickles, and potato chips or side of your choice.

Source: Real Simple Magazine, January 2011

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Blue Corn Turkey Tacos

Last night was a real treat, Jason cooked dinner! Of course I still did the documenting. We saw some great blue corn taco shells that I just had to try since we were in the mood for tacos. In our attempts to be healthy we like to use ground turkey for our tacos and make our own taco seasoning since the packets you find at the store can be loaded with sodium. This mixture was full of flavor and spice! You can adjust the peppers to make it more or less spicy for your taste.

Taco Seasoning

1 Tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container.

In a large saute pan start to cook 2lbs of ground turkey or beef. Then mix in the spices with a splash of water to mix and steam in the flavors.
Once it is finished cooking start building your tacos! We used the blue corn hard taco shells that I saw at whole foods, but you can use any type of hard or soft taco. Here is the box we used:

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Carrot Spice Muffins

I am a sucker for any baking recipe that I can include fruit or vegetables in it. To me that means I can qualify it as healthy. This was one of the first weekends in a long time that we didn't have anything to do or any place we had to be. We were able to have a leisurely morning to ourselves, oh so nice. I took full advantage and tried out this recipe for carrot spice muffins. I wasn't sure what to expect and if they would be really sweet like a carrot cake, but they were true to a muffin and not very sweet. The walnuts gave it a nice crunch to the otherwise moist muffin. I modified a few things like using applesauce instead of oil. I also omitted the raisins since I don't like raisins in general, let alone in my baked goods. I was also lazy and used a bag of pre-shredded carrots to save some time, but you can peel and grate them yourself and will add even more moisture to the muffins.

Carrot Spice Muffins
Makes 15 muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I substituted applesauce)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup skim milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup shredded carrots
1/3 cup raisins (optional)
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a muffin tin or line with paper muffin cups.

2. In a large bowl whisk together dry ingredients (flours through brown sugar), making sure there are no lumps.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ones and gently whisk or stir together. Do NOT overmix.

4. Stir in carrots, raisins, and nuts. Divide the batter evenly among muffin cups. (I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup)

5. Bake for 20 minutes (for large muffins) or 12-14 minutes (for mini muffins). Allow muffin pan to cool on a wire rack for at least 5 minutes before removing muffins.

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Grilled Greek Chicken with Hashbrowns

When I met Jason, chicken was pretty much the only thing he ate for dinner. To this day it is still a staple in the house. Still on our mission to eat things out of the freezer preparing for the storms but also to save money, we are having chicken. We bought a huge bag of individually frozen chicken breasts at Costco and are still digging our way through them. So when I came upon this Greek chicken recipe that sounded delicious I knew I could take some chicken out of the freezer to defrost for it and gave me a chance to use some of our every growing herb garden.

By marinating the chicken with the acid from the lemon juice for over 24 hours it allows the chicken to break down and absorb all of the delicious flavors. The result was an extremely juicy and flavorful piece of chicken.

Grilled Greek Chicken
source: Smells Like Home

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1-2 lemons)
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp each chopped fresh oregano, rosemary, thyme, and basil
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients.  Whisk in the olive oil until well combined with the other ingredients.

  2. Place chicken breasts in a large resealable zipper bag and pour marinade over the chicken.  Close the bag, taking care to remove as much air from the bag as possible.  Smoosh (technical term) the chicken breasts around in the marinade until all of the chicken is covered with marinade.  Place the bag lying flat in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours – the longer the chicken marinates, the better it will be.  Take note that when you marinate your chicken for this long, it should be as fresh as possible – don’t use chicken that is at its sell-by/use-by date already.  Every 12 hours or so and without opening the bag, smoosh the chicken around in the marinade to reposition it, then return it to the fridge.

  3. When you’re ready to grill, allow the chicken to sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before grilling. Set the grill to medium-high heat and place the chicken over the heat source. Grill chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, about 4-6 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts.  Once cooked, remove the chicken from the grill and allow it to rest for 5 minutes (covered) before serving.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A complete dinner without going to the store

As it is officially hurricane season people have said it is a good idea to start using up what is in your freezer just in case there are any bad storms or god forbid an actual hurricane. I have finally started to take their advice and can finally see some space in our freezer. Don't get me wrong, I am leaving those left over frozen cookies because you would NEED those if you lose power. However, for tonight's meal I didn't have to buy a single ingredient and got to use up some pork from the freezer so I consider it a success.
We had 2 pork chops in the freezer which I decided to grill inside due to the dark clouds. I took them out and let them defrost in the refrigerator overnight. I lightly seasoned them on both sides with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Put them on the grill or grill pan for about 5-6 minutes per side or until done. They turned out crispy on the outside but still nice and tender and juicy on the inside.

To me nothing goes better with pork than apples, usually in the form of applesauce. Tonight I made it a little fancier. We had 2 apples in the fruit bin that I sliced thinly and sauteed in a pan with 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter until transparent and tender. This takes about 5-7 minutes depending on how thinly you slice them. You can add a little bit of brown sugar to this if you want to make them a little bit sweeter, but I enjoyed the natural flavor of the apples.

Lastly, I made some couscous from the pantry that is ready in 5 minutes! Boil the water or chicken stock and add in your couscous. Then take it off the heat and cover for 5 minutes. Take the lid off and fluff it up with a fork and you are done. Definitely my go to side dish. Just add some freshly ground pepper and a pinch of salt for flavor.

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Cooking for Charity - Southern style

This weekend we volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House in Fort Lauderdale. They are always in need of someone to cook/bring dinner for the families staying there while their children are in the hospital next door. Having never done it before we weren't sure what to expect and tried to make most of the food at home ahead of time just to be safe. I had never made food to serve 25 people before so this was quite the task. The house manager told us that theme dinners are popular so we went with a Southern style BBQ. We made my Dad's recipe for Buttermilk Biscuits, homemade coleslaw, corn on the cob, BBQ grilled chicken and for dessert I made double batches of blueberry and peach crisps. It is making me hungry just writing this out! i will post the recipes throughout the week but here is the table of food and the recipe for the flaky and delicious biscuits.
 The table of food!

Here are the delicious biscuits, almost as good as my Dad's.

Buttermilk Biscuits
Makes ~10 biscuits

2 Cups Flour
4 heaping teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda, loosely packed
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/3 Cup Crisco shortening or Butter
1 Cup low fat Buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400F

Sift dry ingredients together in a large bow. Add shortening and mix with hands until it becomes like cornmeal. Add buttermilk and stir with a wooden spoon to form dough.

Chill dough for a short time if you want to make the dough a little bit easier to handle. Flour a large surface and pat/roll dough to 1/2 inch thick. Use a 2 inch biscuit cutter to cut out the dough. Roll out remaining pieces and continue with all of the dough.

Place on a greased or non-stick cookie sheet and back for 10 minutes until golden on the outside and flaky on the inside.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pan Seared Pacific Cod with Cilantro Vinaigrette

The other night I was in the mood for fish. For some reason whenever I go to the store with the intent to buy a specific type of fish it is always the most expensive one. This time I got lucky, I knew I wanted to buy cod and when I went to Whole Foods there was a big flyer promoting it as on sale!  It must have been my lucky day!

This recipe is super fast and simple with only a few ingredients but still a lot of flavor. Definitely something that can be made during the week. The cilantro and lemon vinaigrette have a fresh and bright flavor that just screams summer to me.

Pan Seared Pacific Cod with Cilantro Vinaigrette
Serves 4
Cilantro Vinaigrette:
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, grated
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 (6oz) Pacific Cod Fillets
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

For the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine cilantro, garlic, lemon zest and juice and season with salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking to incorporate all the ingredients. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper, if necessary, and set aside.

For the fish: Heat the olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet placed over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the cod with salt and pepper. Once the pan is hot, sear the cod for 3 to 4 minutes on the first side. Add the butter to the pan and allow it to melt. Once the butter has melted, flip the cod and finish cooking it on the other side, 3 to 4 minutes more, or until just cooked through.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

One of the first things I noticed since moving to Florida is that there are a ton of cupcake stores and bakeries around here. I love cake and cupcakes so this is very tempting since you basically drive past one no matter where you go. One thing I really love is that most places have mini cupcakes so you can try different flavors and not feel so guilty. Those little bites are perfect to put my sweet tooth at bay after dinner. 
This weekend we went to a BBQ at a friends house for a kebab party.Everyone brought something to put on the kebabs, which was a cute idea for a potluck. We were bringing dessert and I wanted to test this recipe out before bringing them. There is nothing worse than having a recipe fail and you don't have time to make something else. Also, by baking the cupcakes the night before it not only gave me a chance to make sure they turned out ok, but also allowed time for them to cool completely before icing. While a bit more time consuming than baking a cake, it is definitely easier to serve to a large group. My back up and just for fun we made some fruit kebabs to go along with the theme.

I found this recipe on Glorious Treats and it combines my love for chocolate cake with yummy peanut butter and cream cheese icing. I prefer cream cheese to butter cream icings since they don't tend to be as sweet. The cupcakes were moist and chocolatey and the icing was smooth and creamy with a main flavor of peanut butter. I might decrease the amount you put in next time but it was a hit with everyone else.

Chocolate Cupcakes
(makes 24-27 standard sized cupcakes)


2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (best quality available)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 cup whole milk (I used 2%)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (best quality available)
1 cup boiling water

1.  Line muffin tin with paper liners. Heat oven to 350*F.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3.  Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for one minute.
4.  Stir in boiling water (the batter will be thin, don't worry, this is right).
5.  Fill liners 2/3 full with batter. (I usually put the batter into a large measuring cup with a pour spout, and then pour the batter into the liners.)
6.  Bake cupcakes for approximately 22-24 minutes.
7.  Cool completely on wire rack before frosting.

Peanut Butter Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup smooth peanut butter (chose a peanut butter with no added sugar)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons heavy cream (or whole milk)

1. Beat the butter until smooth. 

2. Add the cream cheese, and continue to beat until smooth and fully combined with the butter. 3. Add the peanut butter and beat until well combined. 
4. Slowly add the powdered sugar and continue to mix until the frosting is smooth. 
5. Add in the cream, and beat another 30 seconds.
6. Frost cupcakes.

Frosting Recipe by Glorious Treats
Cupcakes Recipe Adapted from Hershey's

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