Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Turkey Italian Wedding Soup


Turkey Italian Wedding Soup

I made this after hosting Thanksgiving so I had parts of a turkey on hand. You can also get wings and drumsticks at the grocery store most of the time, no time for that? Get yourself a box of the good turkey stock!!!

In a large pot

Turkey parts (Drumstick, thighs, wing. Left over skin on)

2 carrots, washed, rough cut

2 celery stalks, washed rough cut

1 medium onion, quartered with the skin on

3 cloves of garlic

½ head fennel, rough chopped (optional)

Left over herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage.)

Water to cover

Salt and pepper

Bring to a boil, cover and lower the flame. Simmer 3-5 hours.  Cool.

My broth wasn’t fatty so I didn’t have to skim it, but if you see a lot of fat on the surface, cool completely and remove solid fat.  Then strain soup through a fine sieve.  Return broth to pot and bring to a boil. 



Turkey Meatballs

1 lb. lean ground turkey

2 eggs

½ cup panko bread crumbs

1 tbsp. garlic powder

1 tbsp. onion powder

1 tbsp. Italian seasoning

Salt and pepper

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 carrots, peeled, chopped

Mush all ingredients together, if too wet add more panko.  Roll into balls smaller than a golf ball.  Once you have rolled all the balls lower the broth and add meatballs one by one.  BE CAREFUL!!!  Add 2 stalks chopped celery, 2 carrots peeled and chopped, let cook 7-10 minutes before adding the following.



1 bunch escarole (they also sell this in a bag pre washed and chopped) washed thoroughly, and chopped

1 lb. frozen cheese tortellini



Add the chopped escarole and cook 5-10 minutes, add the frozen tortellini and cook according to directions, usually 3-5 minutes.  Serve with parmesan cheese. 



If you are using boxed broth simply bring it to a boil (I would use two large boxes) and start at the meatball portion of the recipe.  If you can’t find escarole, spinach is a good substitute. 




Hey there!  I swear I am still here! Clearly the inception of Cakes of Wrath, my custom delivery baking service picked up far quicker than I ever thought possible and poor little Plates of Wrath went by the wayside.  Well as it turns out, I also went out and did a little thing with my fiancée...we bought a house!!! We decided in August that we wanted to buy and closed and moved in on election day! Crazy! So for a while there it was a lot ALOT of takeout!!! We then decided, what the hey, lets host Thanksgiving!  It was absolutely fulfilling, delicious and nothing short of comical!  Hey new oven, hey new oven probe, hey new smoke alarms!!! We are finally settling in and after the holidays I will be back with a vengeance!  Just hang with me till then! Peace, Love, Cook.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Asian Chopped Salad with Chicken and Mandarins



Asian Chopped Salad with Chicken and Mandarins
I used to LOVE going to Cheesecake Factory and getting their Asian Chicken Salad, but sometimes you need a lighter option of your favorite meal and I was so happy to realize just how easy this was to recreate and improve on.  All the flavor and a lot less guilt, both calorie wise and financially!  You could easily prep the salad in bulk and keep it in your fridge and just add your protein (Chicken or shrimp), dressing and toppings as you wish throughout the week!
Ingredients
1/4 head green cabbage
¼ head red cabbage
½ head romaine lettuce
4 large kale leaves, with the stem and middle of the stem removed
1 carrot
2 green onions
½ cup crispy Asian noodles (wontons etc. optional)
¼ cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup mandarin orange segments

Dressing:
2 tbsp. minced ginger (the stuff in the squeeze bottle works great)
2 tbsp. sesame oil
4 tbsp. canola oil
2 tbsp. honey or agave nectar
¼ cup rice wine vinegar (white wine vinegar would be fine as well)
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
Sriracha (optional and to taste)

Instructions
For the dressing, add all the ingredients to a small mason jar and shake! (How easy is that!!!!)

For the salad: chop all of your ingredients into small pieces, think half inches in size and toss together.

I served my salads with some grilled chicken for lunch but I think this would be an excellent dinner if you wanted to use some left over grilled chicken or even picked up a rotisserie chicken from the market and cut it into the salad!  Toss about 3 tbsp. of dressing with 1.5 cups of salad and add 4 oz. of chicken or shrimp.  I topped them with some crispy wonton noodles left over from a Chinese food run (love that they throw those in for free and we never eat them!) and some sliced almonds with some mandarin segments from a can.  Super easy, much cheaper and with about ½ the calories as that Cheesecake Factory salad!


Jalapeno Corn Cakes with Tajin Shrimp and Slaw (Or Shrimp Tacos!)


Jalapeno Corn Cakes with Tajin Shrimp and Slaw

Sometimes leftover can become the most killer aspect to a meal all it takes is a little transformation.  I had left over Mexican corn from a BBQ and I knew I needed a way to make a very light meal of grilled shrimp and slaw a little bit more filling.  Corn cakes were an easy way to make add some yummy carbs to a low carb dinner!  No time for corn cakes?  Put the shrimp and slaw in some tortillas with some sliced avocado, and Greek yogurt for a fantastic Taco Tuesday!



Ingredients
1 cup corn kernels, I used left over grilled corn off the cob but frozen cooked corn or canned corn would work as well
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and finely diced (use as much or as little as you like)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ cup milk
2 eggs

10 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 tbsp. Tajin or chili powder
Salt to taste
1 tsp. olive oil

½ bag coleslaw shreds
½ small red onion, sliced thin
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 clove garlic, pressed
Cilantro, a handful of leaves, chopped (optional, to taste)
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

To Serve
Sliced avocado or guacamole
Greek yogurt or sour cream

Instructions
For the Shrimp: In a Ziploc bag add all of the shrimp ingredients and let marinade a half hour up to six hours in the refrigerator.  If you do not have Tajin (go buy it!!!) you can use the chili powder in place of it to get a similar result, use as much or as little chili powder as you wish.   

For the Slaw:  In a mixing bowl add the lime juice and zest, the garlic, salt and pepper, and olive oil and whisk together.  Toss the coleslaw shreds, red onion and optional cilantro in the mixture and set aside.

For the Corn Cakes:  Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix until the batter resembles thick pancake batter.  Heat a non-stick pan and add coconut oil or whatever cooking oil you wish to use, enough to make a shallow layer in the pan.  Scoop the corn cakes in ¼ cups into the pan and flatten them out with the bottom of the spoon, cook until golden brown about 3-5 minutes over medium high heat on each side.  I like to keep them in the oven on a baking rack so that they do not get oily but remain crispy and warm while I cook the shrimp.

For the Shrimp: Heat your grill or grill pan and cook the shrimp until they turn pink and just form a “C” shape.  A rule of thumb with shrimp is that a “C” shape is perfectly cooked, straight shrimp are under cooked and once a shrimp turns into a circle it is overcooked and chewy.  I don’t want to estimate a cooking time for grilled shrimp as even though shrimp are a standard size they still widely vary as do grill temperatures. 

To Serve: I made my plates as stacks with the corn cake on the bottom, then added sliced avocado, the slaw and then the shrimp with some Greek Yogurt or sour cream on top.  Truth be told they were harder to eat this way but they sure looked pretty!    

Chicken Cordon Blue Re-Do! 197 Calories!


Chicken Cordon Blue
I love chicken cordon blue but I don’t love that it’s breaded and sautéed and then covered in ham and cheese, so everything that I love, I also hate and that simply wasn’t going to do.  Here is another recipe redo that allows you all of the deliciousness in a classic recipe with a fraction of the calories and time!
Ingredients
2 chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded thin
4 slices Virginia ham from the deli
4 slices Swiss cheese, from the deli
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. honey
Salt and Pepper
Coconut oil for cooking

Instructions
Cut your chicken into thin cutlets, and pound them very thin with a meat mallet, or back of a frying pan (careful if you have granite countertops!!!!).  Season all sides with salt and pepper.
Foil line a baking sheet. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large skillet, add your cooking oil of choice and cook chicken 3-4 minutes per side.  Place cooked chicken on foil lined baking sheet and set aside.
Combine Dijon mustard, and honey in a bowl and drizzle each cutlet with the mixture.
Roll the deli ham up and slice into ¼ inch pieces, think ham strips.
Roll the deli Swiss up and slice into ¼ inch pieces, same as above.
Divide the ham and Swiss over the chicken cutlets.
Bake 10 minutes or until cheese has melted.

I made this as a big batch of chicken and used it as a meal prep for part of the week.  I simply put it in containers with some green veggies and cauliflower rice for a low carb low calorie lunch!  Each serving of chicken (4oz of chicken with ham and Swiss) came out to approximately 197 calories per serving which with a cup of green veggies and half a cup of cauliflower rice was a great lunch!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

"Bon Chon" Chicken


“Bon Chon” Chicken
I love bon chon, everything about it. It’s the perfectly seasoned, crispy saucy treat.  This was an excellent accompaniment for the Krab and Cucumber salad, because it is sticky, hot and sweet versus the cool, crisp fresh flavors in the salad.  You
will never believe just how easy it is to make!
Ingredients
2 large chicken breasts
1 cup cornstarch
4 cups of canola oil (Or as much as you need to deep fry the in a medium sized pan)

Sauce Ingredients
3 tbsp. go chu jang
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. chopped garlic
1 tbsp. chopped ginger (the jarred stuff is fine here)
2 tbsp. honey
3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 big squeezes of sriracha sauce (optional but we used it)
2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds (optional)
3 green onions, green part, sliced thin

Instructions
Slice chicken breasts into small pieces.  Use meat tenderizer (meat mallet) to pound the chicken thin. 
Heat oil in medium pan to approximately 375 degrees. 
Put cornstarch in a large Ziploc bag and add chicken a few pieces at a time.  Shake to coat the chicken.  Shake off the excess and place in the hot oil, AWAY from you.  Cook 5 minutes or until golden brown, remove carefully with tongs and place on a paper towel lined plate.

In a large microwave safe bowl add all of the ingredients except for the green onions and sesame seeds, and stir.  Microwave for 30 seconds and stir again.  Toss chicken to coat and finish with green onions and sesame seeds.

This recipe blew my mind because I always thought bon chon was super complicated because of that twenty minute wait!  You can change the sauce up or pick up any delicious bottled sauce, even plain old American BBQ sauce would be delicious on these!  We dipped ours in a combination of Greek yogurt and Kewpie (Korean) mayonnaise to tone down the heat, but it was utterly delicious!

Spicy Kani & Cucumber Salad


Spicy Kani & Cucumber Salad
I love going out for sushi, and I do leave certain things to the professionals, re: anything involving raw fish!  Kani on the other hand isn’t raw!  You can make this extremely cost effective, and easy by using Krab, yes that’s crab with a “K!” You’ve seen it in most California rolls and have never really thought about it, so don’t start thinking about it now! You can also use real crab meat if you want to but that will steeply effect the cost, and most people won’t notice the difference! If you don’t have a spiralizer, get one, no but seriously, great investment, super helpful for so many things (think curly fries, or ya know cucumber salad!) but if you don’t have one you can easily thinly slice the cucumbers and toss them with the dressing.  Having a stocked pantry makes this recipe even breezier but if you don’t have an ingredient none are super expensive and are all multi taskers!  This makes a great lunch the next day if you package It in a Tupperware with separate compartments!

Ingredients
2 seedless cucumbers, spiralized on the small setting, or thinly sliced
6 Krab sticks, shredded, peel the like string cheese
2 tbsp. mayonnaise (low fat or regular)
1 tsp. Srirracha (or more if you like spicier)
1 tsp. soy sauce (low sodium if possible)
2 tbsp. seasoned rice wine vinegar
4 big shakes (about a tsp.) of sesame oil
3 tbsp. sesame seeds (optional)
4 tbsp. panko bread crumbs (optional)

Instructions
Spiralize or slice your cucumbers and set aside on a clean tea or dish towel, or paper towels.  This will help your salad from being too wet. 
In a medium size bowl, combine your mayonnaise and srirracha, add approximately 1 tsp. of soy sauce to thin out the dressing.  Add the krab and toss gently to coat with the dressing.
In another mixing bowl add the sesame oil and rice wine vinegar and whisk together. 
If you are doing the optional toasted sesame seeds and panko (I like texture!) get a nonstick frying pan and add the panko and sesame seeds and stir around as they toast over a medium flame. 
Plate the krab on top of the cucumber salad and finish with the panko and sesame seed mixture.

This makes three generous appetizer servings or two entrée servings in my opinion.  125 calories per serving (approximately) and about $1.50 per serving can you really beat that!? Healthy, affordable and easy.  If you want to use real crab meat this will surely increase the price point of your meal but if you can do it, why not!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Green Chilie Cheese Doritos Chicken


Green Chilie Cheese Dorito Chicken

Yep, you heard it, Dorito Chicken.  Not every day is a healthy day and when you’re going to drink copious amounts of margaritas and inevitably wear a stranger’s sombrero you might as well coat your chicken in crushed up Doritos!  Cinco de Mayo foods have stepped their game up and as an adult I feel like I need an actual plate of food vs. being 22 and consuming nachos and quesadillas for dinner.  This meal is excellent for Cinco but also a nice change on Taco Tuesday, I fully believe the Doritos act similarly to a Taco shell in the crunch department, and if you serve it with cauliflower rice it’s still low carb….isn’t it? No?  Well accept that life is about balance and this isn’t the chicken you eat every day, and simply ENJOY IT!

Ingredients

2 lbs. or 3 large chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded thin

6 oz. Colby Jack cheese, cut into ½ inch slices and cut in half the long way again, or Colby jack cheese sticks cut in half

1 small can chopped green chilies

Salt and pepper

1 egg

½ cup flour

20 Doritos, crushed to the consistency of bread crumbs

Cooking spray

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 350 (if you’re cooking this at the same time as the corn 400 is fine!)

Set up a breading station using paper plates and a shallow bowl, add the flour to one plate and the crushed Doritos to the other and put the shallow bowl of egg wash in the middle.  Prepare a shallow baking dish (I used a 13x9 glass pan) with cooking spray.



Lay the pounded chicken cutlets out and add cheese across the width plus a table spoon of green chilies to each cutlet.  Season with salt and pepper and roll up.  Set aside seam side down.  Repeat as needed to finish the chicken.



Take each roll up and roll it in flour and then egg wash, remove extra egg wash and press the Dorito coating onto each roll up and put seam side down in the baking dish.  Repeat as needed to finish the chicken.  Spray across the top of the chicken with non-stick cooking spray.



Bake until the internal temperature is 165 degrees, you don’t want to throw up tomorrow right!? (Well from salmonella that is, you’re too old for Jose Cuervo!) Let cool 5-10 minutes before serving as the cheese will be like delicious molten lava. 



I really enjoyed making this as a fun spin on something I normally do “naked” or just rolled with cheese and covered in green chilie salsa, adding the crunch of the Doritos was perfect and something totally different for my guests!  This paired very nicely with the Mexican corn off the cob, lime zest cauliflower rice (simply add some lime zest and salt to cauliflower rice) with black beans and Cotija cheese.  I like using paper plates for my breading station because it makes clean up a breeze!!!  If you end up having a shortage of Doritos while breading simply crunch more up, but make sure to use a clean hand! If you like spicy food and want to kick the heat up, you can use diced pickled jalapenos in place of the green chilies but I thought this was just spicy enough!

Mexican Corn OFF the Cob


Mexican Corn off the Cob

I really really love Mexican corn, but let’s be honest, Cinco de Mayo is in the month of Mayo and corn on the cob is not cost effective, or in season, so don’t do that.  Buy two bags of frozen corn, trust me on the volume you’re gonna want all that.  Keep in mind this recipe is one of those that you can alter to suit your own tastes or what you have on hand, it’s street food, it’s supposed to be fun!



Ingredients

2, 14 oz. bags frozen corn

2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped

2 tbsp. olive oil

Tajin (Or chili powder and lime juice)

Greek yogurt or Mexican crema or Sour Cream

Cotija Cheese or Parmesan cheese

Salt

Cilantro, chopped (optional)



Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.



Defrost corn, spread it out on a baking sheet.  Add jalapenos and olive oil and toss to combine.  Season with salt.  Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, use a spatula to mix the corn around and spread it back out.  Roast until corn begins to brown.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle with Tajin or chili powder and lime juice, stir to coat.  Use as much or as little as you wish. 



To serve put the corn in a shallow bowl.  Sprinkle with copious amounts of Cotija cheese.  Put the Greek yogurt, or sour cream or Mexican crema in a small Ziploc bag and snip a corner and drizzle the corn and Cotija with it.  You can cut up some cilantro and sprinkle it on top as well, except for me cilantro tastes like soap (did you know that’s an enzyme thing?!).


This would also be great for a large gathering as it is something you can put in a large serving bowl with a bunch of little bowls where everyone can dress it up however they want.  Think, little bowl of Cotija, container of Tagin, limes, Chili powder, Crema, Greek Yogurt or even mayo!  If you don’t have Cotija or cannot get it easily, parmesan cheese is a great substitute!   I served this on my Cinco de Mayo menu with Green Chili Dorito Chicken, Cauliflower rice with black beans and a sprinkle of Cotija, when in Mexico City! Ole!

Berries and Cream Croissanish Cake


Berries and Cream Croissanish

Mother’s Day is coming and we all know that that means brunch!  Brunch just tends to come much earlier when it isn’t accompanied by witty t-shirts and bottomless mimosas, so whip this up Saturday night before you go out and dust it with powdered sugar on a pretty plate before you head to mom’s house and while you’re at it, make the lady a mimosa, she deserves it for putting up with you for the last few decades!  This is as easy as forgetting you bought a bag of croissants on Thursday and having some simple ingredients and fresh berries in your fridge, no fresh berries? Defrost some frozen ones! 

Ingredients

6 croissants, stale preferred, cut into ½ inch cubes

3 eggs

6 oz. softened cream cheese

1/3 cup half and half, or cream, or milk is fine as well (depends on if you’re on a diet, or how much you love your mom)

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

6 oz. mixed berries, chopped up (I used blackberries and raspberries)



Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8-inch spring form pan with non-stick spray.



Chop berries in to quarters.  Cut croissants into ½ inch cubes set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a regular bowl and a hand mixer, cream the cream sugar and eggs together.  Add the cream cheese, vanilla and milk or cream and mix until well combined.  Add the berries and the croissants and mix them together until the croissants are saturated. 

Pour the mixture into the spring form pan and spread it evenly across. 



Bake 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes or until the top is firm or you can insert a knife and remove it cleanly.



Let cool for 15 minutes and remove the “spring” exterior of the pan.  Let cool overnight.  Sprinkle with powder sugar and garnish with fresh berries. 

Spicy Lamb Chops with Zucchini and Cous Cous (READ IT STOP BEING SCARED)


Harissa Spiced Lamb Chops with Za’atar Spiced Zucchini and Garlicky Mint yogurt sauce

Sometimes I get hit with wanderlust and then I look at my bank account, remember I’m planning a wedding and get realllllly wistful of foreign lands with exotic food and drinks, and usually there is a fun sound track.  Being that a flight to Morocco is about a thousand dollars I decided to bring Morocco to my living room, threw some pillows on the floor, cued up Spotify and decided that I was going to make a Moroccan dinner on a budget, and it sure did not disappoint, the weather could have been warmer, but the dinner could not have been more delicious or cost effective.  For this meal I will write exactly how much or as close to how much I spent on each item so you can see just how inexpensive this meal was!  It helps to have a stocked pantry with things like Harissa, the new sriracha in case you didn’t get the spicy memo that has been floating around.  Harissa is about 6 dollars for a jar but is packed with flavor, think super garlicky, salty, and in this case SPICY!  They make many different kinds of harissa but the one I purchased at Whole Foods is a fiery red which should be a good signifier of how spicy this is and why you use only two table spoons for the whole meal!

Ingredients

Rack of baby lamb chops, about 1.5 lbs. ($13.50)

2 tbsp. harissa ($0.30)

2 tbsp. Coconut oil ($0.37)

1 small container full fat Greek yogurt ($1.00)

3 tbsp. mint leaves minced ($0.25)

2 cloves garlic, minced ($0.25)

½ tsp. coriander ($0.10)

1 lemon, zested and juiced ($0.50)

1 zucchini, sliced on a bias ($0.50)

1 tsp. za’atar ($0.20)

2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive oil ($0.12)

½ box Near East Whole Grain Cous Cous ($0.94)

Salt and pepper (you should own these I’m not doing math on 38 granules of salt!)

TOTAL: $18.03/2= $9.01 per person



Instructions

In a large zip lock bag add the lamb chops and the two table spoons of Harissa, seal the bag and mush the chops around so the harissa coats them evenly.  (These can be marinated in advance up to overnight)



Pre heat oven to 400 degrees, place the sliced zucchini on a baking sheet or baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle both sides with the za’atar and salt and pepper.  Place in the oven and let roast.  Flip about 10 minutes in, so both sides roast and caramelize.



In a small mixing bowl add the Greek yogurt, minced mint, minced garlic, lemon zest and juice, coriander salt and pepper and mix.  Cover and refrigerate until it’s time to eat.



While this is cooking prepare cous cous as per the box instructions, you can substitute cauliflower rice or quinoa as well.



Heat a non-stick pan heat 2 tbsp. of coconut oil, I use coconut oil for this because it can withstand a much higher heat, and make the pan SCREAMING hot, add the chops in batches so that they do not touch.  Cook approximately 3 minutes each side and place on a plate so that they can rest while you finish cooking the rest of the chops.  Season them with salt as they come out of the pan. 



Serve the chops with extra harissa if you wish, the cous cous, the mint yogurt sauce and the roasted zucchini. 



It is traditional in Morocco to serve meats like this with a small bowl of cumin, I did a sprinkle a little bit on the plate before we ate and it was utterly delicious.  Normally at a restaurant for a 3 lamb chop dinner per person you are looking at about 25 dollars’ minimum a plate!  This beats that by a mile, and certainly beats a plane ticket to Morocco, at least for now!

Pesto Shrimp over Cheesy Polenta for Two


Pesto Shrimp over Cheesy Polenta for Two

These April showers had me feeling chilled to the bone and quite blah the last few weeks and that meant a craving for easy but rich and satisfying dinner.  Cue a semi homemade, seasonal meal that would really hit the spot but required about two pans and not much else, we’ve all had those days don’t you judge me!  Trader Joe’s is really one of my favorite places because you know you can get all natural, quality ingredients that will help you to make a really wonderful dinner for yourself and your family inexpensively. I keep a container of Trader Joe’s pesto in my refrigerator for so many reasons but in a pinch like this I didn’t need to leave my house to make dinner that would normally require real pants and possibly a reservation.




Ingredients

12 Jumbo shrimp, or 16 Extra Large shrimp (I buy peeled and deveined for this kind of meal)

4 tbsp. Trader Joes Pesto, any jarred pesto or fresh will do

2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts (optional but super yummy)

2 tbsp. shredded parmesan cheese

1 tbsp. olive oil

Crushed red pepper (optional)



Polenta Ingredients

1 cup chicken stock

1 cup milk or cream

½ cup coarse ground cornmeal (I buy this at any store that does bulk sales so I only buy how much I want to keep in the house, but GOYA does this as well by the bag)

1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese

2 tbsp. butter (times like this fancy, expensive butter is nice because it has a higher fat content, but normal butter works fine)

Salt and pepper to taste



Instructions

Add chicken stock, milk or cream and corn meal into a COLD pot.  Turn the stove onto medium or medium high heat and let the mixture come to a fast simmer, almost a boil, stir often until the mixture thickens up, remove from heat and stir in the cheese and butter, season healthily with salt and pepper (if you have white pepper this is the time to use it).



In a medium sauté pan add the olive oil and shrimp and cook about 3 minutes and turn over, add the pesto, (if you are adding the pine nuts add them now along with the optional crushed red pepper) and cook 3-4 more minutes or until the shrimp firm up and turn opaque.



Serve the shrimp over a bed of the polenta and top with the extra pesto from the pan, and parmesan cheese.   



This meal takes less than 30 minutes and can be paired with some roasted vegetables or a side salad but was perfection on its own.  If your polenta starts to thicken too much you can add more milk or cream and butter to thin it out. 

Chicken Spanakopita with Greek Potatoes


Chicken Spanakopita with Greek Feta Potatoes

I love Spanakopita, the Greeks really know what’s up when it comes to flavor and texture with that crispy pillow of spinach and cheese, but for me, it’s just not dinner.  While we often eat meatless Monday, we're carnivores in my house, we need meat, all the proteins and if we can find a way to combine our favorite things WITH meat it’s a good day.  I used filo dough but puff pastry or even plain old pie crust could be substituted in this recipe easily depending on availability and how easy and quick you want to cook dinner!  You can also use shredded pre cooked rotissierie chicken in place of cooking your own and just fold it into the spinach mixture.  Steam in bag potatoes come in clutch for a side dish with this one by adding a simple Greek touch! This recipe is simple enough that you won’t even need the Windex!
Ingredients

2 bags Dole baby spinach, sautéed, and squeezed dry (you can use frozen spinach too, make sure to squeeze it dry!)

6 oz. crumbled feta cheese

1 lemon, zested

1 small onion, minced, and sautéed

2 cloves garlic, minced, and sautéed


2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning

2 Tbsp. dill, chopped (optional)

3 eggs

1 lb. chicken breast, cut into cubes or rotisserie chicken meat

Salt and Pepper to taste

 12 stick of butter, melted

8 ounces packages Filo dough, thawed



Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 



Sautee the spinach with the garlic and onion in a large pan.  Pour into a strainer and press with a spoon to drain the water out of it. 

In the same sauté pan begin to cook the chicken until all sides begin to brown but the chicken is not 100% cooked inside, about five minutes.  In a large mixing bowl combine sautéed and dried spinach mixture with the cottage cheese, feta, dill, lemon zest, and eggs and stir to combine.  Add the chicken and season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning and fold together.

On a baking sheet lay out 2 sheets of filo
dough and brush them with butter, add two more sheets and repeat one more time.  Place about 1/3 of a cup of the spinach mixture in the filo and roll them up.  Brush the tops with butter.  Repeat until you are out of filo and spinach mixture.  I liked making individual portions so that I could use them easily for lunch for the week but you could also do this in a baking dish line the bottom and top with the Filo and fill the inside with the spinach mixture, whatever works best for you.

Bake until the Filo is golden brown, approximately 20 to 30 minutes, remove from the oven and let cool about 5 to 10 minutes before serving.



I served this with very simple Greek style potatoes.  Simply use a bag of Simply potatoes, steam them before you begin cooking so that once the pies go in the oven they have cooled a bit.  Slice them in half and drizzle with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, dried or fresh oregano and the zest of a lemon.  Bake on a baking sheet lined with foil while the spinach pie bakes.  When the spinach pie comes out, remove the potatoes from the oven and toss with some crumbled feta cheese, and the juice of a lemon.  An easy side dish that you can jazz up as much or as little as you like.  No extra feta?  Leave it out!  Have parmesan cheese instead? Use that.  A simple side salad would also make an excellent accompaniment, want to make it “Greek” throw some Kalamata olives, stuffed grape leaves or pepperoncini peppers on it with some feta cheese!     

Wasabi Salmon with Sesame Spiced Vegetables


Wasabi Salmon and Sesame Spiced Vegetables

I love salmon, seriously, it is so simple, so versatile and so good for you that anyone that says they hate it has probably only had those “out to dinner, oh god why is this so fishy” salmon experiences.  I can safely say that is the ONLY time I have ever had “fishy” salmon.  Important fact, (most) FISH IS FROZEN AT SEA, yep, all fish you’re gonna get at the grocery store has been frozen, quickly, at sea, by law.  I much prefer “fresh” from the fish monger fish than I do frozen in a bag, if you are going to buy “frozen” fish try to get individually quick frozen or IQF fish as it is frozen in such a way that will make it less icky frozen defrosted mushy fish fish. 

Ingredients

2, 6 oz. filets of salmon, skin removed (ask the fish monger to do this, he will!)

2 tsp. Wasabi paste (you can get this at Shoprite or even WALMART! For about 2-3 bucks)

3 scallions, green part, thinly sliced (reserve one for garnish, and it tastes great raw in this application)

3 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tbsp. honey

2 tbsp. canola oil



Instructions

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a disposable baking pan (trust me on this as the honey makes cleaning a regular tray a pain in the neck) with cooking spray or brush with your favorite cooking oil.

In a medium bowl combine the wasabi and soy sauce and stir until blended, add the honey, canola oil and scallions and stir to combine.  Add the salmon and marinade for about 15 to 30 minutes, if you want you can do this before work and let the marinade in a bag until you get home!



Bake at 350 degree for approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until the fish begins to flake.  Garnish with extra scallions.  I like to serve this with sesame spiced vegetables, easy recipe to follow.



Ingredients

½ lb. haricot verts, or trimmed green beans

½ small can diced water chestnuts

4-6 button or baby bella mushrooms, sliced

1 tbsp. garlic, (I use Trader Joes garlic in a jar for this!)

1 tbsp. minced ginger, (I use the squeezy ginger you can get in the produce section of the market for this)

1 tsp. sesame oil

1 tsp. coconut oil

1 tsp. sesame seeds (optional)

Soy sauce (optional)

Instructions  

In a wok or large sauté  pan add the coconut oil and sesame oil and let them get super hot!  Add the ginger and garlic, carefully stir, add the green beans, then the water chestnuts and finally the mushrooms.  Stir to combine and coat with the garlic and ginger.  If you want to add soy sauce a drizzle now works well in place of salt.  Sprinkle with optional sesame seeds.    




Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Curry in a Hurry


Curry in a Hurry

Lately all I see on the internet it “curry in a hurry” this “curry in a hurry” that and I realized that for me, that is my favorite kind of curry, something I throw together typically with the contents of my fridge.  It is never really pretty, but it really is delicious, simple and if you look closely, you already have half the recipe marinating in your fridge from Tandoori grilled chicken!!



Ingredients

1 cup 0% plain Greek yogurt

2 tbsp. canola oil

2 tbsp. Tandoori Spice mix

2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken tenders

1 large zip lock bag



1 zucchini, cut into matchsticks or quarters (think cut circles, then cut the circles in half and in half)

1 small onion, sliced

5 mushrooms, (button or baby bella) sliced

1 bag Dole baby spinach

1 tbsp. minced garlic (from a jar, Trader Joes is my favorite)

1 tbsp. minced ginger from a jar

1 cup fat free half and half, or whole milk (if you have coconut milk now would be the time to use it, but it’s curry in a hurry not curry after a trip to the market!)

Salt and Pepper

Cayenne pepper (Optional)

2 tbsp. coconut oil



Instructions

Add the chicken in the yogurt mixture to a hot pan with the coconut oil and sauté for about 5 minutes, use a wooden spoon to break the chicken into bite size pieces.  Then add the onion, garlic and ginger and sauté for another two minutes.  Add the zucchini and mushrooms and season with salt and pepper, if you want this to be spicy add as much or as little cayenne pepper as you wish, I added a little sprinkle but the sky is the limit (well the scovil scale is the limit but that’s for another day).  Add the half and half and lower the heat, stir until the sauce begins to thicken, usually 5 to 10 minutes, add the spinach, and mix to combine.  Once the spinach is wilted spoon over rice, cauliflower rice or quinoa.



IT’S THAT SIMPLE!  I wish I could tell you there is some voodoo magic here but there isn’t.  If you know you are making this recipe you can cut the chicken into bite size chunks vs just marinating them as whole tenders.  This is what I like to call a clean the fridge out meal, perhaps you had marinated the chicken earlier in the week and never grilled all of it, or you have extra carrots or peas from a meal during the week, throw them in there!  The only thing you may want to increase as you add ingredients is salt and pepper and the dairy element so that you have a luscious sauce to go over your rice or rice substitute.   

Tandoori Grilled Chicken with Easy Raita


Tandoori Grilled Chicken over green onion Cauliflower Rice and Easy Raita

With the weather heating up I love lighter food, fresh flavors and textures.  This chicken is delicious on its own but as a composed meal it works very well, and even the next day chopped up and tossed with Greek yogurt and chopped veggies as a light lunch.  As a semi homemade meal I need to give props to Trader Joes for making the world’s best cauliflower rice, because without that this week I would have been cranky as all get out trying to avoid carbs!  I suggest getting to a Trader Joes at 8 am when they open and scooping up a few bags, but if you don’t care about carbs any rice or quinoa is also excellent with this!  I am going to give you the ingredients to make your own Tandoori spice mixture which can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container for about a month!  It is excellent on skinless boneless chicken, or bone in chicken on the grill. 

Ingredients for Tandoori Seasoning mix

1 tbsp. ground ginger

1 tbsp. ground cumin

1 tbsp. ground coriander

1 tbsp. paprika

1 tbsp. turmeric

1 tsp. salt

1-2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Instructions

Add all to a bowl and stir to combine.



Ingredients for Chicken

1 cup 0% plain Greek yogurt

2 tbsp. canola oil

2 tbsp. Tandoori Spice mix

2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken tenders

1 large zip lock bag



Instructions

Add all ingredients to large zip lock bag, and mush together to combine (super technical right?).  Let marinade for anywhere between 1 hour and overnight.



Grill until chicken is 165 degrees with your meat thermometer. 



Ingredients for Easy Raita

1 cucumber, pealed and seeded, cut into a large dice or match sticks

1-2 carrots, peeled and cut into large dice or match sticks

3 radishes, cut into a large dice or match sticks

½ jalapeno seeded and finely diced

1 small plain 0% Greek yogurt

Salt and pepper

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve with tandoori Chicken. 



For the cauliflower rice, simply prepare as directed on the bag and add thinly sliced green onions throughout.  You can do this with regular rice, brown rice, or quinoa as well.  Or serve the chicken and raita over mixed greens with a squeeze of lemon and drizzle of olive oil for a no carb solution!