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.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Raspberry Margaritas

I wonder how it's possible that I can love margaritas so much but also hate tequila so much at the exact same time.  Just the mere thought of straight tequila gives me a shudder....and also?  All those country songs that warn you of the dangers of tequila are on to something serious, folks.  Those clowns sing the truth. 

Mexican fare is one of my very favorites, and I cannot think of anything more blissful than a margarita accompanied by chips and a perfectly made guacamole.  Actually, I can think of something equally blissful.  And that something is a rich, full-bodied Cab accompanied by Italian black truffle cheese.  Which is what I'm enjoying right this second.  But I digress.

Anyway, last weekend, my husband was hard at work brewing beer in the backyard with a friend and he requested a snack in case they got hungry.  Because making beer while drinking beer is hard work, people.  It's not for the faint of heart, and it requires serious dedication and focus.  It makes people understandably hungry.  So I whipped up a batch of my world household famous guacamole and saved the men from beer-making induced starvation.  Of course I devoured sampled some for myself and decided that the lonely guac deserved a margarita accompaniment.  I didn't have enough limes for a "traditional" margarita, but I did have a pint of raspberries that I decided would be the perfect flavor-maker.  And they were.  I whipped up a pint glass-sized margarita for one and enjoyed it immensely.  I'm pretty sure I told my husband that he was on his own for dinner and went to bed at 8:00, but these things happen, don't they?  Yes, they do.

Anyway, this margarita is awfully tasty, and I recommend you pair it with copious amounts of guacamole.

Raspberry Margaritas
Source: My own guacamole-inspired creation

1 small container raspberries
Juice of 3 limes
1 1/2 ounces tequila
1 ounce triple sec
kosher salt for garnish

Puree raspberries and lime juice in a blender until smooth.  Wet the rim of a pint glass with water or lime juice and dip in a plate of kosher salt to coat rim.  Fill glass with ice and add tequila and triple sec.  Pour raspberry and lime mixture in and stir carefully as not to disturb the salt on the rim.  Serve and enjoy!