Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Shrimp Scampi, Y'all

Hello!  Can you believe Christmas is in less than a week?  It's madness I tell ya.  I am mostly finished with all my shopping, and I even managed to buy a few things for other people.
This shrimp scampi recipe was really, really good.  I will admit that I had a few bites, even though pasta is the devil in my world these days.  After all, a girl doesn't lose 30 pounds (yes, I hit the 30 mark this morning, woot!!!) by eating pasta soaked in butter and garlic.  It's a damn shame, though, because pasta soaked in butter in garlic is SO GOOD.  My husband snarfed it down like he hadn't eaten in weeks and I'm pretty sure my jeans would still be loose on him.  Oh well.  Anyway, this is a rich, once in awhile kind of dish that you should make for someone if you did something wrong or if you want them to marry you.

Shrimp Scampi over Pappardelle
Source: Adapted from Tyler Florence

1 pound Pappardelle
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 shallots, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch or two of red pepper flakes
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves
For the pasta, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. When it has come to the boil, add a couple of tablespoons of salt and the pasta. Stir to make sure the pasta separates; cover. When the water returns to a boil, cook for about 6 to 8 minutes or until the pasta is not quite done. Drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes until the shallots and garlic are soft and translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper; add them to the pan and cook until they have turned pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan; set aside and keep warm.

Add wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons oil. When the butter has melted, return the shrimp to the pan along with the parsley and cooked pasta. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over a bit more olive oil and serve immediately.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Cups

Just the world "buffalo" makes me giddy with excitement.  I LOVE me some buffalo wings.  And buffalo shrimp.  And buffalo dip.  And buffalo....buffalo.  Anyway, my love for all things covered with buttery hot sauce and blue cheese dressing has had to be adjusted a bit as my quest for a flatter belly continues, but it's all in good fun.  Turns out you can still enjoy these delightful flavors without looking like a linebacker who swallowed a field goal kicker.  Who woulda thunk it?  Granted, I had to eat my lettuce wraps in a separate room from my husband, who was enjoying his buffalo chicken in flour tortillas (so I didn't knock him unconscious with chloroform and scarf down his carbalicious tortillas), but that just meant I got to hold the remote.  So, all was not lost.

But guess what HAS BEEN lost?  Yep, 27 pounds of fat from this girl's frame.  WOOT!

Anyway, the star of this dish is definitely the homemade blue cheese dressing.  They key is not even using full-fat ingredients (I used reduced fat sour cream and reduced fat mayo), but rather the cheese itself.  Spring for a nice block of blue cheese from the specialty cheese section, not that crappy crumbled stuff in the Tupperware-like container.  You'll thank me, I promise.

This was super easy to throw together, and is great for a quick lunch or weeknight dinner when you forget to go to the grocery store don't have time to cook.  Enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Source: My own, Blue Cheese Dressing by Pip and Ebby

1 package boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders
salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
bit of olive oil for grill
1/2 bottle of Frank's Buffalo Sauce (make sure it's the buffalo sauce, not just the hot sauce)
1 tsp. honey
1 head iceberg lettuce, separated into "cups"
4-5 ribs celery, chopped

1 cup reduced fat sour cream
1 1/2 cups reduced fat mayonnaise
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 - 3/4 cup good blue cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste

First, make the blue cheese dressing.  Combine all the ingredients (sour cream through vinegar) in a small bowl.  Gently mix in the crumbled blue cheese and add salt and pepper to taste.  Put in refrigerator until ready to use.

Next, prepare the chicken.  Heat grill pan to medium-high.  Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Grill chicken until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes each side.  Remove and cut into bit size pieces when cool enough.

Combine the buffalo sauce and honey in a small bowl.  Add chicken pieces and toss to combine.  

Serve chicken in lettuce cups, topped with blue cheese dressing and chopped celery.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pork Tenderloin with Parmesan Sage Cream Sauce

Today I went to spin class at the gym and afterwards ran by the market to grab something quick for us to have for dinner.  While I was waiting for the lady to put my husband's panini in the panini press, I caught a glimpse of myself in the full length mirror and literally gasped.  No, not because I am so skinny (but I AM looking awfully svelte lately, if I do say so myself), but because I was dressed like an 80's aerobics instructor on crack.  By themselves, there is nothing wrong with hot pink sneakers, electric blue biking capris, a neon green tank top, an orange headband, or a bright yellow warmup jacket.  But together?  Not so much.  I looked absolutely ridiculous.  I was really busy this afternoon and put together my spin class outfit in phases when I had time.  Like, I put on the capris in the afternoon to walk the dog, but at that time I had on a black T-shirt, so it wasn't all that offensive.  But by the time I had to leave for the gym, I was late and had to grab the first tank top and jacket I could find.  Little did I know they could be seen from outer space.  All I needed was some legwarmers and a thighmaster, and I could have been Suzanne Summers herself.  Shameful.

Anyway, that has nothing to do with pork tenderloin with sage cream sauce.  I just thought I'd let you know that these things can happen to the best of us and one must be careful when dressing for the gym. 

So!  Pork.  I found this recipe on Pinterest and it actually calls for pork chops, but I didn't have any pork chops but DID have four (FOUR!) pork tenderloins in the freezer, so I improvised.  It turned out fine, though, since the sauce is really the star of the show.  We had a lot left over and I was worried that it wouldn't reheat well, but I was wrong (first time for everything).  It made a delightful lunch the next day.  Enjoy!

Pork Tenderloin with Parmesan Sage Cream Sauce
Source: Adapted from The Little Kitchen

1 to 1.5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup half & half
salt and pepper
4 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
1/8 teaspoon McCormick ground sage (plus 2 pinches)
1 large pork tenderloin

1 tsp. blackening seasoning
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 425.

In a small saucepan, melt butter on medium-low heat. Add half & half and allow to simmer to cook and reduce for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon constantly. Add cheese and allow to melt. Continuing to stir the sauce, add the ground sage. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

Season the pork with the blackening seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Heat a cast iron skillet at medium high heat for about 3 to 5 minutes. Add pork and brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side.

Put the pork on a foil-lined baking sheet and finish cooking in the oven, about 10 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the center registers 145.  Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes (pork will continue to cook after you remove it from the oven).  Slice into 3/4 inch pieces.

Serve pork chops with sauce on top.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Banana Pudding Cookies

You know what rocks about my job?  You guessed it - working from home.  Granted, I travel a lot and sometimes wake up in the morning confused about what city I'm in or try to get in a random Chevy Malibu when I should be looking for my rented Corolla.  D'oh!  The Malibu was LAST trip, silly.  Anyway, when I'm not traveling, I work from my home office, and that is the best ever.  I just have to wake up in the morning, put on some socks (bonus if they match), walk down the stairs, and BAM!  I'm at work. 

A year and a half ago when I took this job, a few people told me that when you work from home, you should get dressed every day like you were going to a real office.  And then close the door of your home office and work in silence - no music, no TV.  Um, what?  No!  That would totally defeat the purpose of working from home, and then what would I have to brag to my friends about!?!  If I changed out of my yoga pants into dress pants, how could I possibly reign supreme over all you cubicle dwellers?  I mean, really. 

Anyway, people often ask me if I miss working in an office with a bunch of people and a water cooler and a duck pond out back.  The answer is no, no I do not.  Then they're all, "but what about the social aspect, don't you get bored!?!?".  Nope.  That's why God made phones and Instant I can talk to my co-workers when I WANT to, and not when I HAVE to.  And there are airplanes so we can all fly to the same place every now and then and get into all kinds of college-like mischief together.

I guess every now and then I think it would be nice to have some crazy co-workers to laugh at with from time to time, but when I get that urge, I just live vicariously through my husband and pretend that his co-workers are mine.  I mean, I know most of the office gossip, and I sometimes (not often enough, though, y'all) get invited to happy hour.  I feel like an honorary member of the team, and that's how I get my fix.  They're like my imaginary friends.

I made these cookies for my fake co-workers.  We can't have 2 dozen cookies in this house, that is for sure, and I don't have my own office break room to bless with my culinary genius, so I sent my husband off to work with these bad boys.  He emailed me at 8:36 AM and said they were gone.  If that's not a reason to make these RIGHT THIS SECOND, I don't know what is.  You're welcome in advance.


Banana Pudding Cookies
Source: Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 (1oz) packages banana cream sugar-free instant pudding mix

1 (1oz package) cheesecake sugar-free instant pudding mix
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped vanilla wafer cookies (I used low fat)
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Great or line a baking sheet with parchment paper

In the bowl of your Kitchenaid mixer (or you could use an electric mixer in a regular bowl), beat together the butter and sugars until creamy.  Add in pudding mix, eggs, and vanilla extract.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the vanilla wafer cookies and white chocolate chips.

Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges and set.

Remove cookies from oven and let cool on baking sheet for two minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mushroom, Chorizo, and Goat Cheese Scrambled Eggs

Hey y'all!  Long time no talk, huh?  I've been on the road for the past 2 weeks straight in various locations, fixing all the world's problems.  Well, not all of them - I still can't figure out how to beat my Mom at Words with Friends or why the dog always insists on barfing on the white parts of my dining room rug and never the black parts.  But, I guess those are my problems and not really the world's....

Anyway, one thing that is not a problem is my progress in shrinking the size of my gut and my butt.  I've lost 22 pounds in 2 1/2 months and feel awesome!  It has not been easy, I will tell you that, but if you follow the rules and make smart decisions, it can definitely be done.  I still find it unfair that I can't eat Jimmy Johns and cake batter martinis all day every day and look like a runway model, but such is life I suppose.  So instead, I eat eggs and veggies and meat (and red wine) and look like a runway model that swallowed a baby seal.

One of the things that has worked best for me is to eat a big breakfast, full of protein and completely devoid of carbs.  I won't bore you with the details on why it's important to eat breakfast that way, so you'll just have to trust me.  I eat eggs scrambled with some combination of meat, veggies, and cheese pretty much every morning, but I'm going to share this particular one because it was SOOO tasty and pretty fancy as well (at least as fancy as eggs can get).  I know it's not really a recipe, but I haven't cooked in like 2 weeks so you're going to have to make do with this until tomorrow when I make you some pork.

Anyway - enjoy!

Mushroom, Chorizo, and Goat Cheese Scrambled Eggs

3 eggs, cracked and scrambled in a small bowl
1 tablespoon butter
3 white button mushrooms, sliced
1/3 link chicken Chorizo (found at Whole Foods), crumbled
small handful crumbled goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste

In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and saute until they become soft.  Add the chorizo, and cook until done. 

Turn the heat to medium-low and add the eggs.  Scramble the eggs slowly until they are done to your liking.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and top with the crumbled goat cheese.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Beer Braised Short Ribs over Mashed Cauliflower

Hello there, friends!  I'm not even going to say anything about how much I suck at keeping up with blog posts lately, because you already know this.  So I'm just going to jump right in with some kick-butt short ribs and a shout-out to the new (are they new??) flavored butters from Whole Foods.
Short ribs are one of my favorite cuts of meat, but the really good ones can be expensive.  I always keep an eye out for when they go on sale, which is actually quite often, and then I stock up.  There are a million ways to make them, but one of my favorites is to slow cook them in beer or wine and then eat them on a chilly day with a side of beer or wine. 
This is super easy to make and the prep work is quick.  It does take a bit of time to cook, but once it's in the oven, the work is over, and you can concentrate on the leftover beer or wine that you might have after preparing the braise.
Anyway!  I served this over mashed cauliflower made with some shallot-saffron butter I found at Whole Foods.  I didn't know they made these flavored butters, but there are like a million (or six) different kinds and I can't wait to try them all!  Mmmmm, butter.

Beer Braised Short Ribs
Source: Adapted from My Baking Addiction
8 whole Beef Short Ribs (bone-in)
Kosher salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 whole medium onion, diced
3 whole carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 cups good beer, any medium or dark variety
2 cups beef broth
4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed and chopped, plus 2 whole sprigs

Salt and pepper ribs. Set aside.

In a large dutch oven, add the butter and olive oil and heat over medium high heat.

Add ribs and brown ribs on all sides, about 1-2 minutes per side. Remove ribs and set aside. Turn heat to medium.

Add onions, carrots, and celery to pan and cook for 4-5 minutes or until soft. Add chopped herbs.  Pour in beer and scrape bottom of pan. Bring to a simmer.

Add broth, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Taste and add more salt if needed. Add ribs to the liquid; they should be almost completely submerged. Add rosemary sprigs (whole) to the liquid.

Put on the lid and place into the oven. Cook at 350 for 2 hours, then reduce heat to 325 and cook for an additional 30 to 45 minutes. Ribs should be fork-tender and falling off the bone. Remove pan from oven and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes, lid on, before serving. At the last minute, skim fat off the top of the liquid.  Serve immediately.

Mashed Cauliflower with Shallot-Saffron Butter
Source: My own

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 block low fat cream cheese
1/3 cup beef or chicken broth
2 tablespoons shallot-saffron butter (from Whole Foods, in the cheese section)
1 tbsp garlic powder
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt to taste.  Add cauliflower and boil until fork-tender.

Drain cauliflower and leave it in the sink for a couple of minutes to allow it to drain completely (you don't want it to be too wet). 

Add cauliflower to the bowl of a food processor.  Add salt, pepper, cream cheese, broth, butter, garlic powder, and goat cheese.  Puree until almost smooth.  Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

I can't believe it's been 10 days since my last post.  Just yesterday I was bragging that I update my blog at least once a week, and upon looking back at the last several months, it appears as though that is lies, all lies.  I don't even have any good excuses besides that I really like MTV, online shopping, and Pinterest.
Anywho, we're here to talk about meatballs, not about my slacker ways or dreadful taste in television programming.  Usually, when I ask my husband what he wants for dinner, he says, "What are my options?", which I suppose is kind of clever and technically a legitimate question.  Inevitably, when he say that, he ends up with a turkey sandwich or Chipotle.  But sometimes when I ask, he gives me an answer and then I'm required to go to the grocery store and buy all the ingredients for whatever his heart desires.  Because I figure if he actually gives me an idea besides, "what are my options?", then he must REALLY want said option and I should try to oblige.  Plus, I have a feeling that the happier he is with dinner, the more likely he is to do the dishes.  Which leaves me more time for MTV, online shopping, and Pinterest.

So today when I asked, he said, "spaghetti and meatballs", so here we are.  Even though it is TOTALLY mean to say the word "spaghetti" to someone who is cutting carbs from their diet.  Just sayin'.

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
Source: Adapted from Dinner: A Love Story
1 pound ground chicken
1/2 a small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2/3 cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
salt to taste
pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup marinara sauce (store bought or homemade)
about 4 ounces fresh mozzarella (I got the medallions and then cut each in half lengthwise to have 8 thin slices)
Preheat oven to 400°F, setting rack to upper third part of oven. In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, onion, parsley, basil, grated cheese, salt, pepper, garlic, and fennel seeds.  Shape into golf ball sized meatballs (I found that it helps to put a little olive oil on your hands makes forming the meatballs easier) and place a few inches from each other on a foil-lined baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Brush a bit of marinara sauce over each meatball.  Bake for 15 minutes.
Remove meatballs from oven, spoon some sauce on top of each meatball, and cover each with a slice of cheese.  Broil another 3 to 5 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden. 
Serve with pasta, or eat plain to save the carbs!  We also had an arugula salad with cherry tomatoes, sliced onions, and a simple vinaigrette.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Oven Roasted Salmon with Parmesan-Mayo Crust

You know, I was all ready to make this post about salmon and healthy ways of cooking it an all that jazz and it was going to be relevant and not contain any random tangents about whatever pops into my ADD mind.  But then I realized that this recipe is from a blog called, "She Cooks, He Cleans", and it made me giggle and then I lost track of my thoughts of salmon and started thinking about cleaning in our household.

If I were a mean wife, I would tell you all that I cook every night and also do all the cleaning myself while my husband sits on the recliner drinking beer and watching baseball.  But I'm an honest person and I'll admit that the man of the house certainly pulls his weight when it comes to cleaning.  And by "pulls his weight", I mean, "does all of the cleaning".  I mean.....not ALL of it, mind you, but probably more than the average dude.  You could argue that it's because he adores me and wants me to have time to do the important things in life, like lay on the couch and play on Pinterest and drink wine.  OR, you could argue that he cleans a lot because he thinks I do it wrong.  I'll.....just put that out there and see what you all think.

Hmmm, you think the latter?  Well, you said it, not me.

Anyway!  The "He" in our household does his fair share of cleaning and I love him for it.  As a reward, I cook him dinner every night sometimes.  Even though the poor man can't have carbs in his own house and probably has a stash of bagels at his desk for emergencies.

On to salmon.  It sounded kind of weird at first, to make a mayo/Parmesan "paste" and spread it over fish, but it's delicious, I swear it.  It got all nice and crusty at the top in the oven, and it made the salmon so moist and flavorful.  It reheats nicely, too, but I don't recommend putting it in the microwave...if you're gonna eat leftovers, spring for turning on the oven, it's worth it!

Oven Roasted Salmon with Parmesan-Mayo Crust
Source: Adapted from She Cooks He Cleans

2 large salmon fillet(s), skin on
Kosher salt/ freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
a few dashes of smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 lemon

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a shallow roasting pan with foil and place salmon in the pan.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Mix the mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne in a small bowl. Spread completely over the salmon. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese on top.

Roast for 12-14 minutes (depending on thickness of salmon).  Then turn the broiler on high and broil for a couple of minutes until the topping begins to brown.  Watch it carefully so it doesn't burn!

Remove from oven; carefully slide a wide spatula between the skin and meat to separate from the skin.   Squeeze a little bit of lemon juice on the fish, and serve.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The World's Best Flank Steak

Heeeeyyyy friends!  Me again.  I'm here to brag about my weight loss and to share a steak recipe with you.  First, I have lost 13 pounds in 5 weeks and I feel amazing!  Second, this flank steak recipe is the best, most delicious one on earth and there is no way I could ever prepare flank steak in any other way.  A bold statement, yes, but I only speak the truth.

This is my mother in law's recipe, and when my husband and I first started dating, I would dream about going over to his folks' house for dinner on the off chance that she would be making flank steak (and also because they are amazing in-laws and I totally lucked out in that department, but the food doesn't hurt).  Oh, it is so good.  The marinade is super easy and consists of things you probably already have in the fridge.  Flank steak is super tender if you don't overcook it and slice it correctly, and it cooks on the grill in no time.  Ugh, how I wish we had flank steak leftovers in the fridge right now....

Anyway!  I can't believe I haven't shared this before.  Actually, I do.  And that is because we usually gobble it down so fast that I don't get a chance to take a picture of it before it is gone.  This time I remedied that by making two flank steaks.  Genius at work.


The World's Best Flank Steak
Source: My mother-in-law, Mona

1 1/2 cups salad oil (vegetable or canola)
3/4 cup soy sauce (I use low sodium)
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. dry mustard
3 tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp parsley flakes
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup lemon juice
Garlic Pepper seasoning to taste (we like McCormick brand)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Pour over flank steak in a shallow baking dish and place in fridge for 8 hours or overnight.

Heat grill to medium high.  Grill steak for 8 minutes on the first side and 5 minutes on the second side for medium rare (which is best because you will slice it really thinly)

Let steak rest for 10 minutes before slicing.  Slice very thinly on the diagonal ACROSS the grain.  This is very important or it won't be tender.  Serve with garlic pepper sprinkled on top.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Barefoot Contessa's Shrimp Salad in Lettuce Cups

Good Morning!  It's a gorgeous day here in Virginia and it makes me want to take a long run and then do yoga in the backyard. 

Actually, it makes me want to go shopping and find a way to install television on the deck.

Anyway!  I'd say that's neither here nor there.  The point is that the first Sunday of fall doesn't disappoint and I'd settle for weather like this every single day of the year, thanks very much.

This shrimp salad recipe was super easy to throw together, and tasty as heck.  I used low fat mayonnaise because I really can't tell the difference in dishes like this, but it would be fine if you use regular mayo, because you know, fat is not the enemy.  I whipped up a batch on a Sunday afternoon and had it in lettuce cups for lunch every day during the week.  I'm sure it would also be tasty on a toasted sub roll, but we're not going to talk about bread on this blog right now because it might make me cry.


Ina Garten's Shrimp Salad
Source: Adapted from Ina Garten

2 lbs frozen cooked shrimp, thawed and halved
1 cup low fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
1/2 cup red onions, minced
1 1/2 cups celery, minced

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper and dill. Combine with the shrimp. Add the red onion and celery and check the seasonings.   Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for a few hours.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Seared Shrimp with Arugula Walnut Pesto

I was all ready to make this blog post about pesto and how it doesn't HAVE to be served with pasta (although pasta is so, so tasty and please don't rub it in).  But then I was editing the photos of said pesto (served with shrimp, sans pasta), and all I could think about was how cute my new Anthropologie plates are.  They are the big ones underneath the usual black and white plates I normally use (Kate Spade - thanks to my wedding guests for those!!).  And then I started thinking about how much I love Anthropologie and how much I wish I could buy all my clothes and accessories and home goods from there.  And that all of their clothes, accessories, and home goods were free.

Anthro has the best sales.  As soon as something goes on sale, it's like half off and you wonder if you're an idiot for every paying full price (you are).  Granted, you have to be careful at Anthropologie, because amongst the cute tanks and cardigans and funky shoes and necklaces are some HEINOUS articles of clothing.  I get that they are supposed to be a little "out there", which is why I love them, but honestly, who wants to wear a sweater made of burlap with an imprint of a squirrel with fangs on it?  Or MC Hammer pants made out of purple velvet?  I mean, really. 

But for the most part, Anthropologie has some super cute stuff, including dishes.  It turns out that you can shop their sales on your iPhone, which is DANGER if you sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep.  I'm just saying.  That's how I got these new plates, and I love them! 

Anyway, the real point of this whole post was to talk to you about arugula and walnut pesto served over seared shrimp.  And man, was it tasty.  And I didn't even miss the pasta enough to throw myself into a carb-craving hissy fit.  Arugula is one of my favorite greens in the whole world.  I love that peppery taste and the fresh smell.  And combine that with walnuts and garlic and cheese and oil?  Perfection.  This was super easy to put together, and the pesto keeps in the fridge for a few days.  Of course, feel free to serve this with pasta, but just don't tell me about it.  Enjoy!

Seared Shrimp with Arugula Walnut Pesto
Source: pesto adapted from Eat Live Run

4 cups baby arugula, packed
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup olive oil
1 garlic cloves, minced
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
salt, pepper, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes to taste
In a food processor, combine the arugula, garlic, walnuts and cheese. Process until well blended.

With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and continue processing until you have a smooth, bright green pesto. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, season the shrimp with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes.  Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium to medium-high heat.  Add the shrimp and saute until done (shrimp will turn pink and opaque), about 2-3 minutes each side.

Serve shrimp with pesto on top.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Chopped Salad with Zesty Lemon Vinaigrette

Oh heeey!  I'm back.  Guess who has lost 7 pounds?  This girl!  Yep, that's right!
The other possible correct answer to the above question would be "Ann's husband, the poor dear".  One of the first things he asked when I told him about the new eating plan was a very sullen question: "does this mean I'm on a diet too?".  Ummmm, yes.  Yes you are.  "My diet is your diet" is how we roll at this house.  Homeboy needs to carbo load on a Big Country Bacon Breakfast Platter with a side of Monster Biscuit at Hardee's on his way to work.  And to swim in a sea of lard on his way to Jimmy John's for lunch.  This is pretty much the only way he won't waste away to nothing while living with Ann on a diet.  Tough life the man leads, huh?
Anyway, we're a week and a half in, and he hasn't starved to death yet, although there have been some close calls.  But for the record, I feel amazing and haven't starved to death either.  Turns out that salad is pretty tasty, and they make your belly much flatter.  They aren't as yummy as french fries, but really, what is?  Mmmmm.....french fries......
Gah!  I digress!  Anyway, I whipped up this salad to take to a Labor Day get-together.  Speaking of said get-together, it was totally reminiscent of a middle school dance.  During cocktail time before we ate, the men stayed outside staring at the grill preparing the grill, and the ladies sat inside watching The Hills marathon the news.  When it was time to eat, we realized there wasn't room at the table for everyone, so we split up....girl's table and boy's table.  In case you've never considered this idea for a dinner party, it's time to do so.  It's actually not such a bad idea.  Especially if the man table is outside.
So!  Salad.  I love a chopped salad because I hate big pieces of lettuce that impede my ability to get the perfect forkful of mixed salad goodness.  You know what a perfect salad bite is....just the right amount of greens, cheese, meat, random veggies AND dressing all on your fork at the same time.  Amazing.  Well, anyway, chopped salad ensures that with every bite.  It also takes a boatload of time to prepare since you want all ingredients to be approximately the same size, but it's worth it.  Just add a simple vinaigrette and you are good to go.  Healthy, protein-rich deliciousness!  Enjoy.

Chopped Salad with Zesty Lemon Vinaigrette
Source: my own, inspired by my new diet
2 Romaine hearts, chopped finely
4 handfuls arugula, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (or quartered if they are big)
1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1 6-inch log Italian salami, chopped
1 fist-sized block cheese, chopped (I used 1/2 white cheddar and 1/2 Havarti, both reduced fat)
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
7-8 white mushrooms, chopped
1 English (seedless) cucumber, chopped
Handful turkey pepperoni, chopped
For the dressing:
Juice of 2 lemons
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
6 tablespoons good olive oil (or more of less to your liking)
First, mix the salad:
Add all chopped vegetables, meat, and cheese into a large bowl.  Stir to combine. 
Next, make the dressing:
Add lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, garlic, S&P, and Italian seasoning to a small bowl.  Stir to combine.  Slowly whisk in olive oil until well combined. 

Serve salad and top with dressing.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Healthy Grilled Chicken Kebabs with Yogurt Marinade

I am pretty certain 100% sure that at some point earlier in this blog, I claimed that I was going to get healthy and lose weight and eat healthy food and move my butt every day.  I was going to be super buff and look cute in skinny jeans and wear a bathing suit without having a panic attack.  Well, that was lies, all lies.
I ain't lost a pound, y'all.  In fact, quite the opposite.  Shameful but true.  Yesterday something happened to me that strikes fear in the hearts of many a female across the world.  I had to get on a scale in front of another human being.  Twice.  In the same day!  I tried convincing these nurses that my clothes weighed close to 30 pounds but they were skeptical.  Rude! 
Turns out that I'm not 22 any more, and no longer have the metabolism of my former self.  And that I don't have hormones on my side.  This whole getting skinny thing is going to take a bit more dedication than I had anticipated.  That's okay - I'm up for the challenge.  I've enlisted the help of an endocrinologist who specializes in metabolic issues and nutrition, and he rocks.  I learned all kinds of things about how the body reacts to fat vs. protein vs. carbs and why certain foods make us feel the way we do.  And why eating certain foods causes a person to gain or lose weight.  Fascinating. 
So!  This blog is going to change a little bit.  But I think for the better, especially if you'd like to lose a few lbs. like me.  And if you don't, then just eat a whole lot of what I'm making, and then also serve it with a bucket of tater tots dipped in ranch.  Sound good?  Great!
And if this post seems like an over-share, it might be.  I couldn't decide whether to put it out there or not, but then I decided that surely I'm not the only person in the world who has struggled with their weight, and that maybe, just MAYBE, someone out there feels the same way I do and might want some healthy recipes to try.  So, here we are.
Anyway, this chicken recipe is a perfect example of the kind of thing I've been instructed to eat for dinner.  Without rice or potatoes (sob).  It was so tasty, though.  It's a Cook's Illustrated recipe, and the chicken is SO juicy and flavorful.  I'd put it in my top 5 favorite chicken recipes of all time, no doubt.  It was super easy, too.  Make it today!  It has tons of protein!

Grilled Chicken Kebabs with Yogurt Marinade
Source: Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons fresh minced garlic
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)  
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 bell peppers, one red and one green, cut into 1-in . pieces
1 large red onion, cut into 1-in . pieces
Whisk yogurt, 1/4 cup oil, 1 Tbsp garlic, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, cayenne, and lemon juice in a large bowl.
Cut chicken into chunks and add to the marinade.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 3-6 hours.
Remove chicken from yogurt marinade; discard marinade. 
Grill over medium heat until vegetables are tender and chicken is no longer pink, turning every few minutes, about 15 minutes total.
Transfer to serving platter and serve immediately.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Tastiest Meatloaf

Helllloooooo, is this thing on!!?!?

I, uh, know it's been awhile since I've graced this blog with my presence, but I've been all kinds of busy flying all over tarnation for work and making those big bucks.  And then I went to Chicago and Denver for fun and spent all the bucks.  I apologize in advance to my husband, and sincerely hope that he doesn't remember the password for our online statement. 

And you know that all this travel nonsense means not a lot of cooking.  I wonder if you people get tired of the same old excuse from me, week after week?  Probably so.  I mean, I kind of get sick of it myself.  But now I'm back to tell you about this tasty meatloaf and to promise you (and my dear, hungry husband) that I'm going to cook and blog more.  Starting now.  Just like my diet.  That starts now, too.

This was the best meatloaf I've ever made.  Granted, I don't make meatloaf all THAT often, and it's hard to make a bad meatloaf, but this was seriously delicious.  I think what made it was the sausage that I decided to throw in there at the last minute for shits and giggles.  SO good.  We had this with mashed cauliflower (flavored with goat cheese, yum!) and roasted green beans.  Can't beat that with a stick.  Enjoy!

Classic Meatloaf with a Twist
Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart

1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs, seasoned
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs 
2 carrots, shredded
1 celery rib, minced
1/2 cup onions, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 pound lean ground beef (I used 93/7)
8 ounces  ground spicy Italian sausage
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Combine the bread crumbs with the minced vegetables in a large bowl.

Mix the ketchup, dry mustard, meat, eggs, S&P, and Tabasco together in a bowl. Knead until thoroughly combined. Add meat mixture to the crumbs/veggie mixture. Combine, but don't over mix.
Form the meat mixture into and elongated loaf on a baking sheet.

Mix the rest of the ketchup, dry mustard, and brown sugar together and baste onto the loaf with a brush.
Bake 45-50 minutes or until internal temperature is 160.  Cool on rack for 15 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Herb-Crusted Chicken with Feta Sauce

I've had this recipe bookmarked for months but have just gotten around to cooking it.  Honestly, I've just gotten around to cooking anything at all, since I haven't really been home enough to do very much in the ways of culinary genius.  But now I am back and here to say that I love me some feta cheese.  And I can't think of anything more delicious than chicken crusted with herbs and panko and then covered with feta.  Yum!

This is going to be a short post because I'm really busy doing spreadsheets for work and watching Dance Moms.  I'm just here to tell you that this chicken was amazing and you should make it.

I served this with a little grilled zucchini and whole wheat orzo tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic powder.

You should also not judge me for that glass of pink wine you see pictured below.  I'll have you know that that is a glass of a beautifully dry rose' wine and it's not white zin from a box.  I'm just saying, in case you were questioning my level of wine sophistication.


Herb-Crusted Chicken with Feta Sauce
Source: Adapted from Moms Who Think, originally from Everyday Food

1/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/3 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs (Italian seasoned)
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2-4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (depending on size, ours were huge so we did 2)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
4 teaspoons olive oil

1 lemon, zest and juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Dash of black pepper
1 3.5-ounce package reduced-fat feta cheese

Combine panko, whole wheat bread crumbs,  Italian seasoning, Parmesan, and garlic powder in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper; dredge in panko mix.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 3-4 minutes each side.  Remove from skillet and place on baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for another 10 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160F.  Let rest so juices distribute and for temp to continue to rise slightly.

Meanwhile, grate rind and squeeze the juice from lemon in a bowl. Add the parsley, oil, and pepper, and stir with a whisk. Add cheese, stirring with a fork to combine.

Place 1 chicken breast on each plate, and spoon 2-3 tablespoons feta sauce over each serving.