7/2/15

Perfect Menu For A Delicious 4th of July Celebration

Are you ready to celebrate 4th of July? I'll be out of town, but wanted to share with you an idea for an easy to make, colorful and delicious menu. Add a few drinks and chips, and you are set for a great summer get together with friends!








What are you planning on cooking/eating for 4th of July?


6/29/15

Lettuce Bundles With Vegetables And Sabra Hummus


Happy Monday! It's a short week and I cannot wait till the long weekend off for 4th of July! I'll be traveling and discovering a new to me city full of food, culture and fun.

Today, however, I want to share with you a quick idea that is awesome as a snack, appetizer or a meal in itself. This post is a continuation of my working relationship with Sabra. Sabra provided samples and compensation for the recipe development, but all opinions are my own.
Here's how this idea came about:
1) I had a variety of Sabra hummus containers in my refrigerator
2) I had a bunch of produce that needed to be used
3) I wanted a light lunch that packed a lot of flavor, color and texture and would not take more than a few minutes to put together

Lettuce Bundles With Vegetables And Sabra Hummus

Ingredients
Spinach & artichoke hummus
lettuce leaves (I wish I'd used something hardy like Romaine or even endives!)
charred corn, kernels removed
cucumber, peeled and cut into strips
red pepper cut into strips
avocado, sliced
cilantro
fresh lime juice
olive oil
salt
optional: chives
 
 
How to char corn if you don't have an outdoor grill? Put it directly on the gas flame of your stove!
 

Directions
1. Spread hummus on the lettuce leaves. Pile on all the vegetables. Drizzle with lime juice and season with salt.
2. If you want, use the chives to tie these bundles together. Consume immediately.
 

Look at all the colors! It's like you are eating a rainbow ;)


6/25/15

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole Inspired By Trisha Yearwood



So it's a zillion degrees out and humid and yet today I'm sharing a recipe for Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole Inspired By Trisha Yearwood. Logical, right?

Here's what happened...

A few weeks ago I came home Friday night (technically Saturday morning) after a super mediocre night of salsa dancing. Instead of going to bed right away, I decided to watch an episode of Trisha Yearwood's cooking show on demand. She was making a chicken, rice and broccoli casserole. And for some reason I wanted to make it right then and there.

I did not. I waited until the next day, went grocery shopping, and made my own version of Trisha's dish. Thank god for AC!

By the way, I tried shredding chicken in a food processor and it worked like magic!


Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole Inspired By Trisha Yearwood
Original Recipe {I used less mayonnaise and more sour cream and substituted cream of broccoli for cream of mushroom soup. I also did not add lemon and instead added chives on top of the casserole.}

Ingredients
olive oil
3 cups cooked rice {cook the rice in the poaching liquid left from cooking chicken breasts!}
3 broccoli crowns cut into bite sized pieces, blanched
3 chicken breasts, poached, shredded
8 ounces Vermont smoked chili cheddar, shredded
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 can cream of broccoli soup
salt & pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped chives

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly oil a baking dish with olive oil. I used a 9x13" rectangular Le Creuset.
2. Add rice to the bottom of the baking dish and top with broccoli.
3. In a large bowl combine shredded chicken, 2/3rds of the cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise and cream of broccoli soup. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary.
4. Spread the chicken mixture on top of the broccoli and top with the remainder of the cheese.
5. Bake for 40-50 minutes.
6. Let the casserole stand for about 5 minutes before topping with chives and serving.      





Hello, gorgeous!!! I wish you could smell this!


This was a pretty satisfying dish. It reheated well. It even froze well.

If I were to make this again, I'd skip the rice and the broccoli and basically bake the top part of the casserole and eat it as a hot dip with chips!




What's cooking at your home this weekend?

6/22/15

Need Last Minute Dessert? Make Sure To Have Puff Pastry In The Freezer: Palmiers!



It's Monday!!! How was your weekend? I spent it on the couch with Idris Elba. Ok, technically he was on my TV...but a girl can dream, right? I binge watched 3 season of Luther and LOVED it!

I did not do much cooking this weekend, but somehow my dishwasher got completely filled with dirty dishes...and then I learned that it no longer works. BLIMEY!

Who wants to come over and wash all my dishes by hand?

Luckily, I have a few photos to share with you from a little dessert project I did a few weeks ago: palmiers! They are these light, crispy and sweet delicate cookies that only require puff pastry, butter, sugar, and if you choose so cocoa powder. They are easy to make and a hit at a girls' get together. I used the version from Dorie Greenspan's latest book.

Need Last Minute Dessert? Make Sure To Have Puff Pastry In The Freezer: Palmiers!















6/18/15

Mango Chipotle BBQ Shrimp With Mango, Watermelon Radish & Cucumber Salsa



It's Thursday! It's almost the weekend! Are you doing anything fun? I have zero plans. Laundry doesn't count. Well, maybe I'll go dancing. And I'll definitely call my dad for Father's day. And cook.

Speaking of cooking, I strongly encourage you to make this recipe for Mango Chipotle BBQ Shrimp With Mango, Watermelon Radish & Cucumber Salsa.

I was inspired to create this recipe after ordering two jars of Mango Chipotle BBQ Sauce made by Renee of Freakin' Flamingo. Renee and I have met through social media years ago and then in person about 5 years ago at a food conference and have remained friends. I can't believe it took me this long to try one of her jarred products.

Of course as soon as I saw the word MANGO in the title of her latest creation, I took out my credit card ;) Luckily, I waited and ordered medium mango chipotle bbq sauce instead of the hot one. Even the medium sauce had plenty of heat for me!

This bbq sauce has become my latest obsession. And no, I'm not getting paid to say that. It's just the truth. I've used this sweet and spicy concoction in this simple shrimp recipe, added it to white beans and ground turkey chili, and mixed it with mayonnaise to spread on boiled corn before sprinkling it with shredded parmesan cheese. All were awesome!


Mango Chipotle BBQ Shrimp With Mango, Watermelon Radish & Cucumber Salsa
Serves 1

Ingredients
8 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup Mango Chipotle BBQ Sauce
olive oil
salt
3 lettuce leaves (I used Boston lettuce)
1/2 cup Mango, Watermelon Radish & Cucumber Salsa
1 avocado, cut into chunks
fresh cilantro leaves
lime wedges


Directions
1. Marinade shrimp in the mango chipotle bbq sauce for about 15 minutes.
2. Heat olive oil in a skillet and sauté the shrimp for about 2 minutes on each side, or until it's opaque on the inside (test one to make sure!).
3. Spoon a bit of salsa into each lettuce "cup," add a few shrimp, avocado chunks, more salsa, and chopped cilantro.
4. Serve with a lime wedge. Maybe a beer!



This was such a satisfying, yet relatively light meal. Make sure you have plenty of napkins on hand, or simply lick your fingers after they get coated with the bbq sauce. You will not regret the messiness!

Let me know what else you think I can make with Renee's bbq sauce!

6/15/15

Mango, Watermelon Radish & Cucumber Salsa Perfect For Any Summer Meal



Happy Monday! My weekend was hot and steamy. Alas, that only applies to the weather forecast :P

Anyway, what are you cooking these days? I'm trying to use the stove and oven as little as possible, and when I do, my AC is on full blast. Over the weekend I made mango chipotle bbq shrimp and this Mango, Watermelon Radish & Cucumber Salsa to go with it. I'll share the recipe for the shrimp later this week.

Who said salsa has to include tomatoes? You know I love tomatoes, but sometimes I want to create something different. The sweet mango is a great contrast to the spicy watermelon radish, and the cucumber balances out the flavors well. If you want more spice, go ahead and add diced jalapeno. Also, if you can't find watermelon radishes, go ahead and use regular ones.

Mango, Watermelon Radish & Cucumber Salsa Perfect For Any Summer Meal
Ingredients
equal parts of peeled and diced mango, watermelon radish, cucumber
lime juice and salt to taste
freshly chopped cilantro

Directions
1. Combine diced mango, watermelon radish and cucumber.
2. Add lime juice, salt and cilantro. Taste. Adjust the flavors as needed.



How beautiful is this salsa!? If you let it sit for about 10 minutes, the flavors get to mingle with one another. You can serve this with chips or on top of grilled seafood or chicken. You can also eat it as a side.


What have YOU been cooking lately!?



Side note, I've decided to stop using watermarks on my photos. What do you think? I've also stopped putting titles on the first photo of the post. Opinions?

6/11/15

Best Way To Shred Chicken: Use Your Stand Mixer!!!


Hi! A few weeks ago I made a chicken/broccoli/rice casserole. I still need to edit photos of that recipe and post it here, but for now, I'll share with you a quick video on the best way to shred your poached chicken breasts: stand mixer!!!

I've seen this trick before, but this was the first time I tried it. It worked like magic!! I used the metal paddle attachment, but I've heard that some of you use dough hook. Try both and decide what works best for you.

Basically I put 3 whole poached chicken breasts in the bowl of the KitchenAid mixer (that's the one I bought a year or so ago as a gift from me to me) or whichever stand mixer you have, and then starting on low speed, whip it up ;)

All 3 chicken breasts were shredded in about 5 minutes!

What was the latest kitchen trick you learned and loved?

6/8/15

Summer Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Corn, Zucchini and Turkey Bacon


How's your Monday?

The last week has been stressful. I wasn't getting enough sleep. Work was busy. I was feeling tired.

I spent this weekend on the couch watching TV, reading (The Girl on the Train), going swimming and not worrying about cooking and/or photographing anything for the blog.

I hope you'll forgive me.

Last night for dinner I made a dish with a bunch of produce, turkey bacon and whole wheat spaghetti. Because the photo of the dish was really popular on instagram, I thought I'd share the recipe with you.

Summer Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Corn, Zucchini and Turkey Bacon

Serves 3-4

Ingredients
water
salt
1/2 pack whole wheat spaghetti
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 turkey bacon strips, chopped
2 leeks {white parts only}, halved, cut into moon shapes, well washed and drained {you don't want any sand!!}
salt to taste
kernels from 2 ears of corn
1 zucchini, diced
2 spinach bunches, stems removed and discarded, leaves chopped
chili powder to taste
3 tablespoons cream cheese
basil for garnish

Directions
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add spaghetti and cook for about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add bacon and leeks and sauté for 5-7 minutes.
3. Season leeks and bacon with salt, add corn and zucchini and continue sautéing for another 5 minutes.
4. Add spinach and chili powder and cook until spinach has wilted.
5. Drain spaghetti and add to the vegetable/bacon mixture. Mix in cream cheese. Feel free to use a bit of pasta cooking water to thin out the sauce.
6. Serve topped with fresh basil.

Of course you can use any vegetables you like/have on hand. Also, feel free to use mozzarella or parmesan or even feta! I used cream cheese because that's the only type of cheese I had.

6/1/15

Vegan Corn & Vidalia Onion Soup: What To Eat After A Dental Surgery


Earlier this month I had one of my teeth extracted. It was quite a pleasant experience. NOT. Luckily, my dentist was really good and I'm doing well now. For the first few days after the surgery, however, I was panicking. Will I have to eat pureed foods for weeks? And no wine? And no chewing!? Are you serious???? I had vacation coming up, not to mention judging a lamb competition.

Well, after a week or so, I was able to eat all the normal foods as long as I chewed on my right side, but for the day after the surgery, I made a Vegan Corn & Vidalia Onion Soup that was not only easy on my mouth, but incredibly satisfying and something you should add to your summer cooking repertoire!

Vegan Corn & Vidalia Onion Soup
Makes about 3 servings

Ingredients
2 teaspoons olive oil
kernels from 3 ears of corn
1 large Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
10 thyme sprigs
salt & pepper to taste
2 cups vegetable broth (you can make your own by simmering corn cobs after you've removed the corn kernels covered in water with a few aromatics)
chili oil
fresh basil, torn


Directions
1. Heat olive oil in a soup pot. Add corn, onions, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and sauté for about 10 minutes.
2. Remove the thyme and add the corn and onion mixture to a blender. Cover with vegetable broth and puree.
3. Serve in soup bowls drizzled with chili oil and garnished with basil.


This soup can be served hot, warm or chilled! It'll be a great first course for your summer dinner!

5/29/15

OXO GreenSaver & Melissa's Produce Eggplant: How To Minimize Produce Waste


I have a confession. I waste food. It happens. I'm not proud of it. Sometimes I buy produce and it sits in my refrigerator despite my best intentions of using it. I often feel very guilty about this.

Luckily, OXO came to the rescue! Earlier this month I received one of OXO's latest creations to test in my kitchen and also a shipment of Chinese eggplant from Melissa's Produce. Both products were sent to me free of charge, but I am not being paid for this post and all opinions are my own.

Below is a photo of OXO's GreenSaver! Doesn't it look cool? It will help you keep your produce fresher longer! Also, the basket insert can be used as a colander!

The GreenSavers provide proper airflow, control humidity and get rid of ethylene gas! Plus, the containers are clear, so it's really easy to see what you have and to actually use your produce!


Look how well the GreenSaver fits inside my refrigerator!! You can set things on top of it too.


Because I was going to use the Chinese eggplant right before my vacation last week, I decided to roast them with a bunch of other vegetables I had: no wasting of produce!!! I also used herbs I have growing on my windowsill in the recipe.




Roast All The Things!
Ingredients
2 Chinese eggplant, cubed
1 yellow squash, cubed
1 Vidalia onions, cut into wedges
1 yellow pepper, cubed
2 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
olive oil {I actually used the oil from a jar of sundried tomatoes!!!}
salt & pepper to taste
10 thyme sprigs
fresh basil

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 450.
2. Add all the vegetables onto a large cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Combine.
3. Top the vegetables for thyme sprigs and roast for 40-60 minutes depending on how small/large your pieces are.
4. Remove the thyme sprigs and serve topped with fresh basil.




This was such a delicious concoction! I had to stop myself from eating the entire thing. This dish can be served straight from the oven or at room temperature. It also freezes really well!

You can serve this mix of roasted vegetables on their own, or add it to pasta, omelets, soups, and even Panini!


The OXO GreenSaver has kept the eggplant in a top form for the last 2 weeks! I definitely give it two thumbs up.

Have a great weekend!