Monday, March 28, 2016

Pignoli Parmesan Couscous with Lemony Broccolini and Sundried Tomato Roasted Shrimp


Pignoli Parmesan Couscous with Lemony Broccolini and Sundried Tomato Roasted Shrimp

Holiday weekends tend to allow us to over eat, over drink and overdo in every sense of the word.  Having hosted Easter full of lamb, ham, cauliflower gratin, and all sorts of Italian goodies (think ricotta cheesecake and cookie cake truffles) I woke up today feeling sluggish and desperately in need of an easy dinner that required very few items and very little clean up.  Pantry staples allow you to jazz up boxed things like whole grain couscous (pignoli nuts can easily be substituted with almonds or walnuts).  And clean up short cuts like lining baking sheets with aluminum foil make dinners like this a dream!





Ingredients

2/3 cup couscous (I used near east plain couscous)

2/3 cup water or broth (Couscous uses a 1-1 ratio, and this particular one cooks in 5 minutes!)

1 tbsp. butter or olive oil

2 tbsp. toasted pignoli nuts (simply put the pignoli nuts in a dry nonstick frying pan and shake them around until they begin to toast, remove from the pan and set aside)

2 tbsp. parmesan cheese



¾ lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I keep a bag of large, peeled and deveined shrimp in my freezer)

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 small shallot, diced

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1 tbsp. olive oil or coconut oil for cooking

½ lemon, juiced (zest It first and reserve the zest for the broccolini)

2 tbsp. dry, sundried tomatoes or 3 large sundried tomatoes under oil, roughly chopped

Paprika

Salt and Pepper



1 bunch broccolini, trimmed

1 tbsp. olive oil

½ lemon, zested

1 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)

Salt and pepper



Instructions

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees and line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, this will make clean up easier!



In a small bowl drizzle olive oil over the shrimp, and the juice of half of a lemon in addition to the Italian seasoning, paprika, salt and pepper.  Stir and let marinade while you prep the rest of the food.



Place the broccolini on the lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, lemon zest, crushed red pepper and salt and pepper and place in the oven.  Let cook for about 10 minutes, toss and place back in the oven until the shrimp are cooked.



In a small pot bring 2/3 cup of water to a boil, add 2/3 cup couscous and olive oil or butter, stir, put the lid on, and let stand off the heat for 5 minutes.  Add the pine nuts and the parmesan cheese and stir, set aside.



In a sauté pan place the olive oil, garlic and shallots and let cook until the shallots begin to turn translucent.  Over a medium high flame add the shrimp to the pan with the juice from the bowl and sauté until they begin to turn pink.  Add the sundried tomatoes and finish cooking, you will know as the shrimp will be curled and they will be opaque and pink.



Remove the broccolini from the pan.  Serve a scoop of the couscous with the broccolini on top and finish with the shrimp and the sauce from the pan. 



I love using baking sheets lined with foil to roast vegetables because that is one less pan that needs to be washed! I have also done this recipe by cooking the broccolini half way through and adding the shrimp and the remainder of the ingredients to the pan and mixing them together and letting them roast until the shrimp are opaque, then you simply have a cutting board, bowl, and pan for the couscous to clean up!





Filet of Fish (Take that McDonalds!)


Filet of Fish

 


Just over a year ago I took my life back, as much as I love food, food, was ultimately going to kill me one day.  I decided to undergo a major surgery to change my life, the gastric sleeve, and coupled by changing how I eat, by working out (a lot), and by generally leading a much more active life style I have lost 130 pounds thus far and gained a lot of perspective and my love for food has evolved into something that allows me to share my recipes with you.  In making these changes one of the many things I decided was that I would no longer eat “fast food,” goodbye McDonalds, see ya later Wendys, I no longer want or need you.  But, every so often, Timehop reminds you that you used to LOVE a filet of fish on a breezy Lenten Friday, but being that you refuse to eat McDonalds you need to figure out a way to have all the deliciousness of a Filet of Fish without all of the scary things that go into McDonalds. 



Ingredients

1 lb. cod filet (Most wild caught fish is flash frozen at sea by law, save the money and get the “previously frozen” fish)

1 egg, scrambled for breading

½ cup panko breadcrumbs

¼ cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

4 slices American cheese

2 soft rolls (I used store baked rolls but any roll will do)

¼ head cabbage shredded (Bagged slaw mix or shredded lettuce is good too)

½ onion sliced thin

Thin sliced tomato (Optional)

Tarter Sauce

Ketchup

Cocktail Sauce



Instructions

Shred the cabbage, and thinly slice the onion.  Pre-slice rolls and have the cheese ready. 

Cut the fish into 4 portions, pat dry with paper towels and set aside.

Combine the bread crumbs in a shallow bowl. Scramble the egg and add a splash of water.  Set this aside.

In a large frying pan add cooking oil, I used canola oil for this, and begin heating.



Egg wash the fish and bread them with the bread crumbs on all sides.  Carefully place the fish in the oil and cook for 4-5 minutes per side or until golden brown.  Let rest on paper towels and place the sliced cheese on the fish when it is hot (the cheese is optional but that’s how I liked my filet of fish). 



Spread tarter sauce on one side of the bun, add the sliced onions, shredded cabbage and place the fish in the bun. 



I like to add tarter, and ketchup to my sandwich and I served this with quick cooking frozen French fries!  This was a quick late night meal that totally hit the spot and for the cost of the cod, 4.99 a pound, plus the bag of French fries 2.50, deli cheese .53 cents, plus the cost of the rolls 2.00 you can serve 4 people dinner for about 2.50 a person!  Take that McDonalds!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Turkey Sausage and Goat Cheese Sause (Spaghetti Squash)


Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Sausage & Goat Cheese
With the weather still a little chilly but summer quickly approaching so many of us are having the constant struggle of, wanting warm delicious comfort food and wanting a hot delicious summer body!  This is one of my favorite pasta alternatives for when the weather is a little chilly and I want something delicious and easy.  Spaghetti squash is an excellent alternative to pasta, but seriously, let’s all be honest with each other, no, it is not LIKE pasta, it is LIKE spaghetti squash, delicious and mostly carb free.  Just like zoodles, while pasta LIKE, they are not pasta, they are vessels for flavor, a way to get the delicious sauce into your belly.

Ingredients

1 package turkey sausage, removed from the casing and crumbled

1 medium onion, sliced thin

2 cloves garlic, minced

5-10 baby bella mushrooms, stems removed and sliced (OR any other mushroom you like, or no mushrooms)

1 can small white beans, drained

1 cup goat cheese crumbles (Shoprite sells them in a small container and I tend to use the whole thing)

1 – 6 oz. bag baby spinach

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Pinch of crushed red pepper



Instructions

Cook your spaghetti squash, I like to cook mine in rings with the seeds removed because it most closely resembles spaghetti.  You can cut it into rings, or in half and remove the seeds and drizzle it with olive oil and roast it in the oven at 350 for 40 minutes or until the inside is tender.  OR you can cut it in half, scrape the seeds and pop it in the microwave for 12 minutes, EASY PEASY! Use a fork to remove the spaghetti strings from the shell and add them to a large bowl.

To remove your turkey sausage from the cashing use a sharp knife to slit the side of the sausage and simple peal the casing away, or squeeze the meat out of an end of the sausage.  This may be a touch messy but it is a good way to have the kids help if you have them!  Cook until the sausage is brown and fully cooked, remove from the pan and put the pan back on the burner. To the same pan add olive oil, and the sausage removed from the casing.  Use wooden spoon to crumble the sausage and cook until fully cooked, add onions and begin to sauté, when they begin to get translucent add the garlic and if you want the pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.  Sautee for two minutes on medium heat.  Add the mushrooms, cook for two more minutes, add the drained beans to the pan and stir to incorporate.  Add the sausage crumbles back into the pan and add the spinach, stir and season with salt and pepper.  Pour the sauce over the spaghetti squash and add the goat cheese, stir to incorporate while still hot, the cheese will begin to melt and coat the squash to form a sauce.

You can put the same sauce over regular pasta, add a few spoonsfuls of the hot pasta water to create a silky sauce over your pasta!      

Cattleman's Pot Pie


Cattleman’s Pot Pie

Dinner should be delicious, wholesome and fun, for the whole family.  I like to make meals versatile enough where everyone at the dinner table is more than happy to eat it.  While I often make things from scratch sometimes a cheap box of Jiffy cornbread mix can take dinner from ordinary to extraordinary (boy was that corny!) This is a fun interactive dinner where everybody can have what they want, grab some shredded cheese, some Fritos or Cheetos, prep some corn bread mix and let everyone build their own dinner

Ingredients

1 lb. lean ground beef (I use 93/7 meat)

1 medium green bell pepper, chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

1 Anaheim chili pepper, chopped (If you can’t find one of these add more bell pepper in its place)

1-2 jalapenos, chopped (add as much or as little as you like, seeds optional)

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, diced

1 can diced tomatoes

½ can corn, drained

1 small can tomato sauce

1 can kidney beans, drained

1 packet McCormick Original Chili seasoning

1 box Jiffy Corn Muffins prepared as per directions



Instructions

In a medium skillet add some cooking oil, whichever kind you prefer and add the peppers, onions and garlic and sauté until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the ground beef and break up into large crumbles, let brown.  If you use less lean beef brown, it in a separate pan and add the strained beef to the vegetables.  Add the chili seasoning and stir to combine.  Add the corn, diced tomatoes, beans and tomato sauce and lower to a simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.  Note: I do not add salt as the chili seasoning has salt in it.  



As is this is delicious chili and I love it on its own, but to make Cattleman’s Pot Pie I put it in a casserole dish, sprinkle the top with shredded cheddar cheese and cover it with the corn bread mix (prepare as the box specifies) and bake at 375 until the corn bread is browned.  I often make it in a ramekin for me with corn bread on top, and make the rest of the corn bread as corn muffins with either chopped jalapenos, or some cheddar cheese mixed in.  Another fun way to serve this is as a Frito or Cheetos pie, simply spoon some of the chili over a bowl full of Fritos or Cheetos and top with cheese, Greek yogurt or sour cream, sliced avocado and diced onions.  Left overs are delicious over a split corn muffin with an egg the next day for breakfast or lunch!



You can also swap out the beef for lean ground turkey or even lentils for a vegetarian option.  Sometimes I add a can of drained chick peas to bulk this up without adding more meat.  Want to sneak some more vegetables in there? Shred up some carrots or dice some zucchini and add it in when you sauté the vegetables!      

Corned Beef Hash


Corned Beef Hash

I’m not going to lie, I am not going to be a great Irish wife.  I like corned beef and cabbage, don’t get me wrong, but after my one initial meal of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and carrots on some rye bread with spicy mustard…I’m good.  I don’t seek it out again, but I as with everything I always make too much!  I love repurposing things, but after egg rolls and pizza I was beginning to feel tapped out.  After dinner it was packaged up in Tupperware, and left in the fridge where it likely would sit until my fiancée decided that he wanted it again, every time I opened the fridge it taunted me, taking up space and giving me a dirty look.  I woke up on Saturday morning with the worlds craziest hankering, I wanted corned beef hash!  Thus the inception of this corned beef hash.  With some left over ingredients and some refrigerator staples, and topped with some shredded cheese and an egg and you have yourself an unctuous brunch. 


Ingredients
6 oz. left over corned beef, cut into large cubes (you could also use deli corned beef sliced into a large piece and diced)

3-4 left over potato wedges, drained and sliced thick

5 left over carrots, drained and sliced thick

1 medium onion diced

1 red pepper diced

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

Salt and pepper to season

Shredded cheese for topping

Eggs cooked how you wish for topping

1-2 tbsp. coconut oil (whatever oil you like to cook with)



Instructions

In a large skillet (cast iron if you want!), add cooking oil and get it hot, add onions and peppers and sauté.  In a separate skillet, add additional cooking oil and add the corned beef, the goal is to let the corned beef begin to get crisp and render some of the fat out of it.  Add the sliced potatoes and carrots to the original pan and stir, season with salt and pepper, and press down with a spatula.  This is a very visual recipe, so depending on your pan, your stove and how hungry you are you want to watch these pans carefully.  Flip your potato mixture and add your corned beef mixture to it, press down again and let cook until desired level of crispyness occurs. 

I am aware this is super vague but this really is a recipe that is about transforming leftovers with no fear, you could even cut up some cabbage and add it to your mixture! I served mine with cheese and a poached egg because this screamed for some runny yolk.  Have fun with this, it would also make an excellent midnight snack.  Fun tip, left over corned beef can only be safely kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, but if you freeze it, it can stay safely in the freezer for up to 3 months! Hash whenever you want it!!!




Saturday, March 19, 2016

Truffle Slaw

Truffle Slaw


My good friend Chelsea owns a lovely little boutique gift shop in Westwood, New Jersey.  Every time
I visit her there is a new goodie that I just cannot keep my hands off of, and a few weeks ago she introduced me to “The Truffelist” a local, New York company that hand makes all of their products and infuses them with bits of earthy truffle!  I wanted the entire line! Butter, oil, salt, honey, and the one I ultimately bought because I can’t buy her whole stock, I need to leave things for you great people, the mustard!  Check out Markethouse Local at 172 Center Ave. Westwood, NJ 07675 and tell her Christina sent you! 



Ingredients
½ head green cabbage sliced thin
½ white onion sliced thin
1 carrot shredded
3 radishes shredded
1.5 tbsp. Truffleist Mustard
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Instructions
If you don’t want to shred your own slaw feel free to use a pre shredded bag and simply add some thin sliced onion.  I really like making my own because I like slicing it VERY thin on a mandolin because I feel it is so much crisper and fresher that way, if you have one, use it, if you don’t, definitely consider purchasing one for under 30 dollars you can get a quality mandolin and be able to do so many awesome things! Think: French fries!

In a small bowl put the Truffleist mustard and apple cider vinegar, quickly whisk in a steady stream of extra virgin olive oil, about 4 tbsp. give or take until the dressing begins to emulsify.  If you want you can also add all the ingredients to a blender and hit blend!
Toss the vinaigrette over the shredded slaw and season with some black pepper and a touch of salt. 

I really enjoyed this with the corned beef and cabbage pizza but I think it would be a fantastic addition to a grilled chicken sandwich or wrap.  If you don’t have truffle mustard, simply swap it out for a nice Dijon mustard or even some spicy brown mustard and a touch of honey!  Don't forget our good friends at Markethouse and The Truffleist!
http://www.markethouseshoplocal.com/
http://truffleist.com/

Corned Beef and Cabbage Pizza


Corned Beef and Cabbage Pizza
Another post St. Patrick’s day whoops that turned into by far one of our favorite things!  I make this a couple times a year when we want to hunker down with Boondock Saints and some Guinness floats. 
Ingredients
1 can pizza Pillsbury pizza crust
3 cups thin sliced cabbage, or use store bough coleslaw mix
2 tbsp. olive oil for sautéing the cabbage
2 potatoes, washed and sliced thin (if you have a mandolin this is the time to use it for super thin slices) or use left over corned beef and cabbage potatoes cubed small
1.5 to 2 cups shredded cheese, I like Sargento 4 cheese Pizza blend
6-8 oz. deli sliced corned beef, cut into small pieces (or left over corned beef sliced thin, or cut into small pieces)
2 tbsp. spicy brown mustard
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper

Instructions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large skillet add the 2 tbsp. of olive oil and add the sliced cabbage to wilt it down, sauté and season with salt and pepper. 

Spray a large baking sheet and place the potato slices on it, spray the tops of them as well and bake until they begin to crisp up, remove from the oven and set them aside.

Prepare a pizza pan (any baking sheet will do) with a brush of olive oil or spray of cooking spray and stretch pizza crust over the pan, you can use any pizza crust you like I use the Pillsbury crust for this pizza as over time I’ve found it works the best.

Spread the mustard over the pizza crust like you would a very thin layer of sauce.  Sprinkle half the corned beef on the crust, top with the cabbage, the rest of the cheese and then the rest of the corned beef.  Add some black pepper to finish.

Bake at 450 for 15 to 20 minutes or until the bottom of the pizza begins to brown, you can check with a spatula.  The top of the pizza should begin to brown.  Top with the crispy potatoes.

I love serving this with a fresh salad, often with thousand island dressing that you JUST MADE for your egg rolls!  This pizza, again is a fun way to express yourself and use what you have in the kitchen.  You can drizzle some fresh mustard on top if you really crave a nice kick, or swap the mustard out for horseradish sauce!   I served this last night with a truffle slaw, very simple and very delicious!  I’ll post that recipe as well.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Thousand Island Dressing


Thousand Island Dressing

I have really enjoyed learning how to make my own dressings because we all know you buy a bottle of that stuff in the bottle and use it once or twice and then it sits on the door of your refrigerator until it is questionably bad by the labels standards, but because it’s so full of preservatives NOTHING ABOUT IT CHANGES!!!  I never really enjoyed bottled stuff but it’s convenient and cheap, and really, is anything in life that is “cheap and convenient” that good? No.  As I go forward I will start to total up how much things are and show you that often for not much more than you would spend on something prepared you can have something fresh, delicious and that you made to your liking!

Ingredients

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tbsp. ketchup

2 tbsp. sweet pickle relish

2 tbsp. finely diced onion, any type you have on hand

1 small clove garlic, pressed

1 tsp. white vinegar

2-3 dashes Tabasco Sauce (Optional)

Salt and Pepper to taste



Instructions

Add all ingredients to a small bowl and mix well.  Taste and add salt and pepper to desired taste.  Add hot sauce if you would like and stir again.  Cover and let sit for 1 hour in the refrigerator before using to let the flavors really blend.  I like making it in a Tupperware because that way you can store it easily for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

I have made this so many different ways, swapping out the Tabasco for sriracha, adding some yellow mustard, more garlic or no garlic, even with vegan mayonnaise!  Change the ½ cup mayo to ¼ and add ¼ miracle whip, 2 tbsp. French dressing, and 2 tbsp. dill pickle relish and you have Big Mac sauce!  We will re visit Big Macs at a later date!

Reuben Egg Rolls


Reuben Egg Rolls
I made these several years ago on a whim because I had a ton of left over St. Patrick’s Day supplies and no logical way to eat them, yet again.  They have evolved a bit over the years into their own, non-leftover entity which is great because they also make an excellent party food, and you know we like to party!

Ingredients
½ lb. corned beef diced finely, or ½ lb. deli corned beef, diced finely (I often use more, because we like meat)
½ lb. shredded Swiss or gruyere cheese, (Trader Joes sells this in a big mixed bag for 4.99)
½ cup sauerkraut, rinsed (You can use more and increase your recipe depending on how much you like)
6-10 large egg roll wrappers (Most grocery stores sell them in the produce section for some weird reason)
Black pepper (No need for salt! TRUST ME)
Small cup of water (For sealing the egg rolls)
Cooking oil for frying
Or
Cooking spray for baking

Instructions
If baking pre heat your oven to 375 degrees and prepare a tray with a metal baking rack so they don’t stick to the bottom.  Also prepare a plate with paper towels to absorb the oil from them once they are fried. 

If frying prepare a deep pan with oil that will cover the egg rolls.

In a large mixing bowl combine the diced corned beef, the shredded cheese and the sauerkraut, and the black pepper and stir until well combined. 

Put approximately 1/3 cup filling on your egg roll wrapper.  I have attached a diagram of how to roll them, seal them with a bit of water because they will open up in the fryer, simply think of using the water like you would on an envelope (please don’t lick them!). Roll all of your egg rolls. 

If you are baking them, spray them with cooking spray, bake them until they are golden brown about 20-30 minutes.

Fry each egg roll until it is golden brown and bubbly, you might need to flip them over so do so carefully with tongs.  Let them cool on the paper towels, I suggest cutting them in half and serving them with thousand island dressing (Recipe to follow, duh.)

The best part about these egg rolls is if you have extra potatoes in your corned beef and cabbage you can drain them and chop them and add them to the mix!  Like more sauerkraut? Add it!  More cheese? Go for it!  Meat eater?  Do it up!  There are no rules! Just don’t over fill your egg rolls because just like pants, when they get too tight, they split!






Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Ides of March Salad AKA Caesar Salad


Caesar Dressing
I joke that this is the Ides of March salad because it is a common misconception that Caesar salads are because of Julius Caesar, but they aren't! Caesar Cardini is said to have been an Italian immigrant that lived in California but operated a restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico to avoid the rules of prohibition.  One night when the restaurant was said to be depleted on kitchen supplies Caesar made the salad with what was on hand, garlic, egg yolks, anchovies (seriously, any Caesar at a restaurant has them so relaxxxxxxx they are just what gives it a salty flavor), and romaine lettuce but by making it table side with some flare it became popular with the patrons! This story can't be confirmed but it certainly goes after my heart because so many of my recipes are what I had on hand and what turned into a favorite!

2 tbsp. white wine vinegar (red wine vinegar works too)

½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 clove garlic

2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese

1 tsp. anchovy paste or 2 anchovy filets

1 raw egg yolk

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste



Add all ingredients to your blender, I used my Nutribullet, and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Taste your dressing, if you want it creamier add another egg yolk, if you want it more like a vinaigrette omit the egg. 



Simply spoon over fresh romaine lettuce and top with some fresh shredded Parmesan cheese and croutons, I like making mine a meal and adding some grilled chicken and tomatoes. 

I like to leave my romaine leaves whole and chop my chicken up so that I can eat my "salad" like a "taco," kitchen existentialism is my favorite!


Monday, March 14, 2016

READERS CHOICE: FISH TACOS WITH SLAW TWO WAYS


Crispy Fish Tacos with Slaw Two Ways

For many of us it is the Lenten season which means fish on Fridays but the truth of the matter is, fish is very important in our diets and many of us do not eat it nearly enough.  This is one of my favorite fresh recipes for a quick dinner, with a hack for the kids!  This is also a fun dinner to plate family style so everyone can make their own taco with whatever fixings they want!  I like to serve this with cauliflower rice and beans, or regular rice and beans for a crowd. 

Ingredients

For the fish

1 lb. cod, I like to cut it in half the long way and then cut each half in half so they are perfect taco sized pieces (Got kids? Know they won’t eat cod? or no time? Grab a box of high quality fish sticks!)

1 egg

1 cup panko bread crumbs

Oil for frying (optional)



For the Slaw

1 bag cabbage slaw mix

1 red onion, sliced thin

1 5oz. container plain Greek Yogurt

1 lime, zested and juiced

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 tsp. cumin

½ tsp. chili powder

Salt and Pepper to taste

Left over mojo



For the Tacos

1 package soft taco tortillas

Jalapenos, limes, radishes, avocado, red onion, pico de gallo,



Instructions

Prepare your slaw first so that it can take on the flavor of the dressing.
In a large bowl add the yogurt, lime juice, lime zest, pressed garlic, cumin and chili powder and mix together.  Toss together with the slaw mix and red onion and season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

If you want to make slaw two ways, divide the slaw and sliced onion in half, and an easy hack is to use the left over mojo and toss it over half of the slaw mix.  Add as much mojo as you want, but remember to keep the vegetables crisp and fresh you can always add more later on!

If you are going to bake your fish, preheat your oven to 350, If not prepare a frying pan with oil for frying.  Make a traditional breading station, one bowl with egg, one bowl with panko.  Egg wash your fish and bread it with the panko breadcrumbs.  If you are baking your fish put it on a baking sheet with a wire rack to prevent it from sticking, bake until firm for about 12-15 minutes. 

If you are frying your fish, bread the fish the same as if you were to bake it but add the fish to the hot oil, cook on each side about three minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.  Make sure to use a spatula to remove the fish from the pan as if you use tongs it will fall apart, cod is a very delicate flakey fish which is perfect for both of these applications.

Now is the fun part! Taco Time! Chop some tomatoes or put out a bowl of prepared pico de gallo, slice some fresh ripe avocado, thinly slice some radishes, cut up some lime wedges, slice some jalapenos and heat up the tortillas (I like to toast mine on the stove top to get some charred bits on them) but you can heat them in the microwave or oven as well.

If you don’t have time to bake or fry your own fish, use high quality fish sticks, because while it is a great hack to make the kids eat it is also a great time saving hack.  Put out bowls of all of your taco toppings and let everyone make their own tacos, I really like having both slaws because it gives a nice contrast, one being creamy and one being a little fresher!  Trying to stay low carb? Ditch the tortilla and simply top your fish with the slaws and toppings!!     

Horseradish Blue Cheese Dressing


Horseradish Blue Cheese Dressing

Blue cheese dressing is something that you would think has a ton of ingredients, a ton of steps and tastes exactly the same in a jar.  Right? Wrong!  Eight ingredients and about eight minutes to the zestiest delicious blue cheese dressing, I liked adding a bit of prepared horseradish for a kick, but of course you can simply add more crumbled blue cheese if you don’t have it on hand or don’t like it.

Ingredients

½ cup Greek yogurt

½ cup low fat mayonnaise (or whatever mayonnaise is on hand)

2 scallions, green portion thinly sliced

2 tbsp. prepared horseradish

2 tbsp. white vinegar

2 tbsp. half and half (milk will work as well, omit this if you want a thicker dressing or increase it to make a thinner dip)

2 cloves garlic, pressed

½ cup blue cheese crumbles (or gorgonzola crumbles)

Salt and pepper to taste



Instructions

Add all of your ingredients with exception of the blue cheese crumbles to a bowl, I used two tablespoons of half and half to thin my dressing out, you can use more or less half and half or milk depending on the consistency you like.  Mix the ingredients together and add a half cup of blue cheese crumbles (your local market sells various brands in a 4 oz. container for about 2.49, save a few crumbles to top your salad if you like) and stir them in. 

See? Easy!!!!!

I used this to top a delightful sirloin steak salad with arugula, cherry tomatoes, watermelon radishes, red onions.  A grilled sirloin steak made a lovely accompaniment, but if you don’t eat meat some grilled baby Portobello mushrooms would also be delicious!  I would double this recipe and use it for snack time with some crunchy vegetables!

Cauliflower Rice Moro


Cauliflower Rice Moro

I have been ricing cauliflower for well over a year and every time I do it there is cauliflower EVERYWHERE, so while it is nutritious and delicious I often find myself not wanting to deal with the mess.  That was until one of our followers told us that Trader Joes sells the most incredible pre made cauliflower rice in their freezer section! Now it is harder to get your hands on but if you see it pick up a few bags because you won’t be sorry!  This is far closer to the consistency of “real rice” than anything I had ever made and for 1.99 for a 12 oz. bag you really cannot go wrong!

Ingredients

1/2 bag Trader Joes Cauliflower Rice prepared according to the package directions

1 can black beans, drained

1 small onion, diced

1 clove garlic, diced

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (if you like spice leave some of the seeds in!)

½ small bell pepper, diced

1 tbsp. adobo

2 tbsp. olive oil

¼ cup water



Instructions

In a small skillet sauté the bell peppers, onions, garlic and jalapenos until they just begin to soften.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the drained black beans, adobo and ¼ cup water, stir and let simmer for 10 minutes.

To make this like moro add some of the black bean mixture to your prepared cauliflower rice and mix together.  You can make the whole bag of cauliflower rice in advance as it reheats very well and simply spoon your black bean mixture over each individual serving. 

If you don't have time to make your own black beans, Trader Joes comes to the rescue once again with their canned Cuban Black Beans, for a whopping 99 cents you can cut down the prep time to this meal and still serve your family something delicious!

Shh...we won't tell!

Pork Mojo & Pork Mojo Sliders


Pork Mojo
Summer is coming and that means entertaining for many of us, but entertaining does not have to be a stressful experience.  Last night’s dinner can make tomorrows appetizers fun and delicious.  This mojo Pork is easy and flavorful but also super versatile.  This marinade can also be used on chicken or shrimp.  This mojo is vibrant and makes an excellent dipping sauce, or dressing as well. 

Ingredients

2 limes, zested and juiced

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1 orange, zested and juiced

½ cup orange juice

8 cloves of garlic

1 clam shell package of fresh oregano (you can get this for 99 cents at most markets)

3 green onions, trim the ends off of both sides

1 tbsp. cumin

2 tbsp. brown sugar

¾ cup olive oil

1 pork tenderloin (or 2 if you intend on using this for meal prep or for appetizers the next few days)



Instructions

Put all ingredients in a blender, and puree! Divide into two portions, marinade pork tenderloin anywhere from 3 hours to overnight in part of the marinade and save the other half for plating. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  On the stove heat a frying pan, I use cast iron simply to eliminate a step but if you don’t have one don’t stress it.  If you are using a cast iron pan sear one side of your meat and flip it over, then put the pan and tenderloin in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the internal temperature is 145 degrees, I ALWAYS use a meat thermometer when it comes to pork and chicken in the oven because we very seriously don’t like food poisoning in our house!  If you do not have a cast iron pan sear both sides of your meat in your frying pan and then transfer it to a baking dish and bake until the internal temperature is 145 degrees.

I served this with homemade tostones and cauliflower rice moro (Recipe to be posted as well).  With a few simple ingredients this goes from a delicious dinner to an excellent appetizer.
Premade tostones (you can buy these in the freezer section of your grocery store)
Deli ham
Deli Swiss cheese
Yellow mustard
Pickles (I used cornichons because I love them! But dill pickles work too!)
Super simple assembly
Prepare tostones as per package directions, add a squeeze of yellow mustard, cut your deli ham to fit the tostones, top with Swiss cheese and place in the oven until the cheese melts.  Top each with a thin slice of pork and a slice of pickle.  These were so yummy and delicious, make a bunch because they will be a hit with your friends!
The extra Mojo that was not used to marinade the pork accompanies it very well, and can be used as a yummy dressing for a salad the next day, or toss it with some premade slaw for a wonderful fresh side dish!



Thursday, March 10, 2016

Lunch time Re-Do! Pesto Chicken Part Deux



Lunch Time Re-Do!
Make last nights dinner, todays lunch!
Greek Yogurt Pesto Chicken Salad
I hope that you enjoyed your Baked Pesto Chicken and those sweet blistered tomatoes, and I actually hope, you have left overs, because this lunch time re-do is divine!  So nice we ate it twice, different ways of course!  Super simple and stays well in the refrigerator for a few days! My personal favorite was on a whole grain English muffin with melted provolone cheese, because mmm…..
Ingredients
1 cup shredded left over Plates of Wrath Pesto Chicken (Or use a rotisserie chicken, grilled chicken, cooked chicken you have on hand)
3 oz. plain Greek Yogurt
2 Tbsp. Prepared Pesto
½ red pepper, chopped
½ small red onion, chopped
1 stick celery. Chopped

Instructions
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix, season with salt and pepper to taste.
Put it on an open face English Muffin with sliced cheese, we used deli provolone, and put it in a toaster oven or under the broiler until the cheese bubbles.
Try it in a wrap with the left over blistered cherry tomatoes, or cut some cherry tomatoes and add some mixed greens or arugula.
Try it on toast, use your blistered tomatoes as jam, spread them on your toast with some shaved parmesan and spring mix.
You can even add a heaping scoop on the same mixed greens and skip the dressing this is packed with flavor!





Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Tips & Tricks: Side Dish Edition

Tricks and Tips: Side Dish Edition

Tuesday and Thursdays my goal is to give you a culinary "trick" or "tip" to make your life easier, whether it be an incredible sale on a gadget or tool, or a way to make your life easier in the kitchen.  This week I wanted to tackle side dishes so in addition to giving you some easy weeknight sides I thought I would give you one of my best "tricks" for tackling the side dish problem!

Weeknights get hectic for all of us, between work, school, the gym, and kids there is always something going on in our lives that makes cooking a “substantial” meal just a little out of our mental reach.  I hope that in this blog I am able to give you some tricks and tips to make weeknights a little less hectic for you.  So here is my “trick” for Thursday, March 10, 2016: Make your grains ahead of time!  Aside from rice, which we all know gets crunchy and gross within hours of being cooked, most grains stay wonderfully in the refrigerator for up to 4 days in an air tight container.  Quinoa, bulger, and farro make excellent side dishes and can even be added to a salad during the week for lunch.  Trader Joe's has quick varieties of all of these which can be made in less than 10 minutes, so even if it’s Monday morning you can throw a pot on the stove while you drink your coffee and know that for the rest of the week you will have a side dish that you can do literally THOUSANDS of things with!  I like to make one or two grains and store them in air tight containers in the fridge so when I’m ready to make dinner all I need to do is measure out however many servings I am going to make, usually figure about ¼ to ½ cup cooked grains for each adult for dinner.  Most grains, like quinoa reheat in the microwave simply and can be tossed with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper or can be used as a vessel for flavor, which clearly, is my jam.  

I like to keep various “mix ins” on hand to jazz up my grains, a jar of roasted red peppers, prepared pesto, various tapenades, Spanish olives, store bought cooked beets (they sell them cold in the produce section), all kinds of cheese, cut up vegetables etc, the possibilities are endless!  This is a fun way to pair your side dishes with your main dish, I personally LOVE plain old store bought pesto mixed into warm quinoa, maybe a pinch of parmesan cheese on top or if you’re feeling fancy some toasted pine nuts!  Having tacos? Chop up some Spanish olives and toss them into your quinoa with some black beans!  You can easily make farro “fried rice” with a little sesame oil, scallions and a scrambled egg!

Remember when you were a kid and everyone told you not to play with your food?  You’re an adult now! Play with your food!