Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lemon Raspberry Muffins

One of the great things about that Eating Well website I told you about is that you can sign up for emails that send you great recipes and information.  I think weekly I probably go through and save multiple recipes that come from these emails. 

Last week I received one about healthy muffins and other quick breads.  I scrolled through and found a number of yummy looking muffins I needed to make asap!  We love having fresh muffins around the house to grab on a quick morning on our way out the door, but don't have them very often because they are generally not too healthy.  However every once in a while I find a healthier recipe like this one or this one.

1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup nonfat buttermilk (remember you can mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice w/ 1 cup milk)
1/3 cup canola oil (you can sub in sour cream or applesauce as well)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) raspberries (I used frozen and they were perfect)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the lemon in long strips. Combine the zest and sugar in a food processor; pulse until the zest is very finely chopped into the sugar. Add buttermilk, oil, egg and vanilla and pulse until blended.
Combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the buttermilk mixture and fold until almost blended. Gently fold in raspberries. Divide the batter among the muffin cups.
Bake the muffins until the edges and tops are golden, 20 to 25 minutes (mine were done at 20). Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Serve warm.

oops, they're not as healthy when you add a little butter on the inside?  oh well!


Here is the lasagna I promised Corey I would make after I raved about it Thursday night.  My friend Lauren had us over for dinner and served this awesome, healthier version of meat & cheese lasagna.  All 5 of us girls finished off our large portions - it was seriously so good!

lasagna noodles
sauce (the link is Lauren's meat sauce recipe; or use a jar of store-bought sauce plus some ground meat mixed in; or use a jar of store-bought sauce, plus maybe some spinach or other veggies, for you vegetarians out there - I stuck with her recipe and it was awesome with ground turkey!)
15 oz. low fat ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 cups parmesan cheese, shredded
2 cups mozzarella cheese (low fat, part skim)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook about 8 noodles, al dente (a little undercooked),  Tip: To keep noodles from sticking to each other, add a little olive oil to the pot when you add the noodles.
Cook your meat sauce
while you cook pasta. If you're not using meat sauce recipe, heat store-bought sauce in a saucepan and cook meat or vegetables on a skillet. Add cooked meat to saucepan to simmer and absorb flavors.
In a small-medium sized bowl, combine beaten egg and ricotta cheese with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Mix well.
In another bowl, combine 2 cups mozzarella cheese (I used shredded, which was an entire bag) and 1 cup parmesan cheese.
In a 13x9 inch dish, begin layers: 2 cups meat sauce, 4 noodles, 1/2 ricotta cheese mixture, 1/2 shredded cheese mixture; (repeat) 2 cups meat sauce, 4 noodles, 1/2 ricotta cheese mixture, 1/2 shredded cheese mixture; remaining sauce plus 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes, until cheese and sauce bubble.

Caribbean Chicken with Pineapple Salsa

I thought of this Caribbean Chicken when I saw Lauren post this recipe and I realized I hadn't made it in too long!  It is such a great refreshing summer recipe.  The chicken is so juicy when baked and the spiciness of the crust/breading with the sweetness of the pineapple salsa makes a perfect combination.  I knew I had to make it this week!!!

4 chicken breasts
1 1/4 cup Fiber One cereal (I used Special K because we usually have it on hand)
2 teaspoons Jerk Seasoning (dry)
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice mixed w/ 1/2 cup milk)
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (tabasco)
Pineapple Salsa
8 oz crushed pineapple
1/4 cup diced red pepper
1/4 cup diced apricots
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Heat oven to 400.  Spray baking pan with cooking spray.  Put cereal in resealable bag and crush with rolling pin.  Pour cereal into a shallow dish and mix in jerk seasoning.  Mix buttermilk, mustard, and pepper sauce in another shallow dish.  First dip chicken in milk then coat with cereal mixture.
Bake 14-16 minutes (or longer depending on size of chicken breasts) until cooked through.  Mix together salsa ingredients while chicken is cooking.  Cover and refrigerate.  Serve with chicken.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Garden Phase Two

The plants have definitely sprouted!  My pea plants are litterally growing like weeds.  I don't know how much longer they'll be able to stay in their little containers.  They are ready to be planted soon I think!


for frame of reference

tiny spinach leaves

tulips along the side of the house

Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Guacamole

The Pacers are currently loosing in the first round of the play-offs, so sad.  The series began in Chicago and the Pacers lost the first two games by just a few baskets, so we (and by we, I mean Corey mostly) were really excited to watch the third game Monday night at home.  He suggested we have some burgers and beers for the game.  However we just had burgers on Saturday night out on the grill, so I decided to mix it up and make something a bit different, but just as fun!

What you'll need:
2 chicken breasts
seasoning of choice (I seasoned them with Weber grill "Kickin Chicken")
1 avocado
A few tablespoons of salsa
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
a sprinkling of garlic powder
2 everything bagel thins
slices of cheese if you choose

Season your chicken breasts on both sides and grill.  Mix your avocado with salsa, cilantro, and garlic powder to taste for a quick guacamole.  Toast bagel things.  Assemble your sandwich.  This was great with carrots and fruit for dinner and finish off the remaining guac with some pita chips.  Yummy!

Spinach & Feta Salmon

I got this idea from one of my friends Sarah who told me she fixes this regularly.  I can see why...so tasty and really easy!  If you love feta, this is a must try!  I made it by topping the salmon with raw spinach and feta before baking, however the recipe I am giving below is how I would make it next time.  You would think I would have learned by now after making this and this, that spinach really shrinks up majorly, but now I will know for next time!  By "wilting" your spinach before topping your salmon with it, you will get an idea of how much you want once its cooked down!

What you'll need:
2 salmon filets
About a half bag or 5 oz fresh spinach leaves
1/2 cup feta

Add a touch of olive oil (less than a teaspoon should do) and spinach (a little at a time if it doesn't all fit initially in the pan) to a sauce pan over medium low heat stirring just until it sweats and wilts down.  It will shrink up to at least 1/4 of its original size.  Place salmon in a baking dish and top with spinach and then feta.  Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes until fish flakes easily.

Berry Tart with Walnut Crust

If you have never visited the Eating Well website you must do it soon!  It has a ton of healthy recipes that are really tasty and fresh.  I also love how it gives nutritional facts on each recipe and has a lot of other great info on the main page.  My friend Lauren had us over for a dinner party on Thursday and I brought this for desert.  She made the most amazing lasagna for us that I'm going to make from her recipe on Sunday.

This recipe is really light and a great way to use those fresh strawberries that are in season right now!  The original recipe calls for blueberries, but I know not everyone is a fan, Corey included, so I decided to go half strawberries.

oh you weren't aware that it was the forth of july???
1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted (I didn't toast them in the interest of time and it still tasted great!)
1 cup graham cracker crumbs, preferably whole-wheat
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon peanut or canola oil
Pinch of salt

8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufch√Ętel), softened
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (we use sugar free now and you can't even taste a difference)
2 cups fresh berries (strawberries & blueberries)

To prepare crust: Preheat oven to 325°F.
Coarsely chop walnuts in a food processor. Add graham cracker crumbs and process until the mixture looks like fine crumbs.
Whisk egg white in a medium bowl until frothy. Add the crumb mixture, butter, oil and salt; toss to combine. Press the mixture into the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan. Set the pan on a baking sheet. Bake until dry and slightly darker around the edges, about 8 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
To prepare filling: Beat cream cheese, sour cream and 1/4 cup maple syrup in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth. When the crust is cool, spread the filling evenly into it, being careful not to break up the delicate crust. Arrange blueberries on the filling, pressing lightly so they set in. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup over the berries. Chill for at least 1 hour to firm up.

Homemade Creamy Tomato Soup

Tuesday was a really rainy day and nothing sounded like it would hit the spot better than grilled cheese and tomato soup.  I had saved this recipe a few weeks ago and was waiting to make it sometime during the summer when I had fresh tomatoes, but I ended up just purchasing some from the grocery store and it actually turned out really really good!  It was the tastiest tomato soup I've ever had!  It was really flavorful, fresh, had the perfect amount of creaminess, and with just a touch of heat from the crushed red pepper.  I used half milk and half cream rather than the original heavy cream the recipe called for and I thought it was plenty creamy.  I also upped the crushed red pepper just a bit, added more dried basil, s & p, and a couple garlic cloves for extra flavor.  This is the first recipe I've tried from a new blog I found called Our Life in the Kitchen and I will definitely be visiting her site again!  Below is the modified recipe to the way we made it.

1 1/2 pounds fresh roma tomatoes
1 small onion
less than 1/4 cup Arborio rice - uncooked (this is rice normally used for risotto)
low sodium chicken stock - less than 1 large container or 2 cans would do
olive oil
crushed red pepper flakes
a handful of fresh basil leaves
2 or 3 small garlic cloves
dried basil & salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup half & half (half cream, half milk)

Heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a large stock pot.  Brown diced onion for about 5-7 minutes and add minced garlic once onion is almost done browning.  Add quartered tomatoes to the pan & a few pinches of red pepper.  Pour in enough chicken stock to just slightly cover the tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Add in the rice and stir (it will look like not very much, but will grow as it cooks).  Continue cooking 15 -20 minutes on a low simmer, uncovered, until rice is cooked through.  Add in torn basil leaves.  Blend the entire soup once rice is tender.  Return to the pot and add cream and other seasonings to taste.  Serves fantastic with grilled cheese!

it all starts with a good bunch of fresh tomatoes
adding in your tomatoes
and your chicken stock
and your cream
finished product!  This is actually from Our Life in the Kitchen's blog, I forgot to take a picture of it finished!  Mine was a little darker than this.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Blackened Mahi-Mahi Fish Tacos

Fish tacos are another one of Corey's favorites.  These are so versatile, you can make them with any white fish or even shrimp!  I recently bought a bag of some mahi mahi so I thought I would cover it in blackened seasoning and grill it up.  I also grilled the tortillas for a few minutes on each side for the first time and I would highly recommend doing that!  They were so tasty warm and a little crunchy on the edges.

Mahi-Mahi filets (two made 6 tacos for us)
Blackened Seasoning
Tortillas (we used small flour ones)
Mexican Rice
Black Beans

Season your filets and grill until done on both sides.  Mix together a few tablespoons of mayo with lime juice and cilantro to taste.  Fill tortillas with fish and other ingredients and top with your lime cilantro aioli sauce.

Salmon with Creamy Dijon Sauce

This salmon is another go-to recipe for me when I don't have anything planned.  Its really easy & quick to make and it tastes amazing!  The recipe is from the very first cook book I bought when we were first married (a sam's club cook book that cost about $6).

4 salmon filets (or other fish - the original recipe is for halibut)
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon onion salt
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/2 cup sour cream (I used fat free)
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon thyme
1/2 cup chicken or veggie stock or broth

First you want to thaw fish if frozen.  Baste it with butter, onion salt, marjoram, and 1/4 teaspoon thyme.  Broil in oven for 8-12 minutes until flakes easily with a fork.  Heat sour cream, flour, mustard, salt, pepper, thyme, and chicken stock in small sauce pan over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, heat for one more minute.  Serve sauce over fish.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Angel Food Cake

My bday was Tuesday so I decided to make myself a bday cake!  I had this awesome angel food cake a few weeks ago at work with strawberries and whipped cream and had been wanting to make one ever since, so the bday was a perfect excuse!

Angel food cake is so easy to make!  Make sure you have enough eggs in your house because it takes 12!  And if anyone has a good use for the egg yolks please let me know!  Also make sure that you prepare to make it the night before, or at least a few hours, because you will have to let it cool in the pan before taking it out.

As I was getting ready to make this Monday night, Corey asked me if I could open his present early.  I was shocked because he is the guy who won't even give a hint until I open the gift.  He is really the best gift giver.  I won't even have a chance to start thinking about what I might want for my bday and he comes home one day all smiley and lets me know he's already bought it.  No hints, nothing, he just thinks up some awesome present that I mentioned I wanted months ago once, or maybe I didn't even realize that I wanted it yet.  So you can imagine my surprise when he wanted me to open it early!  Well guess what it was!?!

there's the hubby unwraping my present!
pretty excited!
love having two free hands

this is how fluffy your egg whites should get
a very good excuse to buy a cute new pan
bday candle!

Heavenly Angel Food Cake
from All recipes
10-12 large eggs (whites only)
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar

1.  Separate egg whites into glass measuring cup, you will need 1 1/2 cups.  Set aside for 30 minutes to get room temperature.
2.  Sift powdered sugar and flour together three times.  Set aside.
3.  Pour egg whites into your mixer bowl.  Add cream of tartar, salt, & your extracts.  Gradually add sugar until dissolved and stiff peaks form (start gradually with the mixture then increase to speed 8).
4.  Fold in your flour mixture 1/4 cup at a time.
5.  Pour into ungreased tube pan and cut with a knife to get ride of air pockets.  Bake for 40-45 minutes at 350 until cake springs back.  Immediately invert pan and let cool before removing from pan.  Serve with  strawberries and fresh whipped cream or topping of choice.

Beef with Peppers

This was the first time I had ever made noodles with stir fry, previously I had only done rice.  This was awesome!  Recipe courtesy of the pioneer woman and I would absolutely make it again.  You can adjust your flavors and even your ingredients to your tastes.  We added more chili paste and red pepper to make ours really spicy.

1-½ pound Flank Steak, Sliced Very Thin Against The Grain (I actually just bought presliced "stir fry meat")
½ cups Low Sodium Soy Sauce
3 Tablespoons Sherry  (we didn't have so I didn't use).
2 Tablespoons Packed Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
1 Tablespoon Minced Fresh Ginger (I used powdered)
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 teaspoon Red Chile Paste
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 whole Medium Yellow Onion Sliced
2 whole Red Bell Peppers, Cored And Sliced Into Rings
1 Tablespoon Diced Fresh Jalapeno (or 1 Teaspoon Dice Hot Pepper)
Mushrooms (we added because they were in the fridge)
Red Pepper Flakes, For Sprinkling
Cilantro Leaves
Rice Noodles

Preparation Instructions
Mix together soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar, cornstarch, ginger, garlic, and chili paste (or chili oil.) Place sliced beef in the mixture and toss to coat. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high to high heat. When it is very hot, throw in the onions and cook for less than a minute. Remove to a separate plate. Return skillet to flame, allow to reheat, and add bell peppers (and hot pepper/jalapeno if using.) Cook for a minute, tossing, until peppers have brown/black bits but are still firm. Remove to a plate.
Return skillet to heat and allow to get hot. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add 1/3 of the meat mixture, evenly distributing over the surface of the skillet. Allow to sit for 20 to 30 seconds, then turn with tongs. Cook for another 30 seconds, then remove to a separate plate. Repeat with remaining meat until all brown.
Reduce heat to low. Add all meat, onions, and peppers to the skillet and toss to combine. Pour in remaining sauce (the sauce the meat marinated in*) and stir. Allow to simmer on low for a few minutes (I probably simmered for 10 or 15). Sauce will slowly thicken. Turn off heat.
*Update/Note: you can also whip up an extra batch of liquid if you do not want to use the same liquid you use for the meat.
Turn off boiling water, then throw in noodles. Stir, then allow noodles to sit in hot water for 8 minutes or so (check package directions to be sure.) Drain, then add 1/2 the noodles to stir fry. Toss together, then add more noodles to taste. Add very hot water if needed to thin.
Top with cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

BBQ Chicken Burgers

I've never had a chicken or turkey burger...so why not start now!  I often pick my recipes for the week by how yummy the pictures look, and this one definitely did it for me!  This recipe also comes from How Sweet (am I starting to sound like I'm cooking through her blog Julie & Julia style? - that's sort of how it feels!)

BBQ Chicken Burgers
makes 4 burgers
1 pound ground chicken breast
1/4 cup finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
4 whole wheat buns - I used these awesome whole wheat, everything, chibatta buns I found in the bakery section at Walmart
1 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
BBQ sauce for topping
gouda cheese for topping

In a large bowl, combine chicken, BBQ sauce, paprika, onion and garlic powder, salt, pepper and cheddar cheese. Mix until just combined, then form 4 patties. Preheat the grill or a skillet and cook the burgers until fully cooked through. I used the grill for the first time this year and cooked mine about 8 minutes per side – they were juicy and not dried out, but cooked thoroughly.
While burgers are cooking, heat a skillet on medium heat and add olive oil.  I actually do mine with a little butter and sugar and they are really sweet.  Add sliced onions with a pinch of salt and saute until caramelized, about 10 minutes.
When burgers are ready, top with gouda (or more cheddar), onions, BBQ sauce and fresh tomato & romaine. I also toast the buns!

fresh tomato, romaine, & gouda for topping.  any good melting cheese would work, like a mozzarella, but gouda is so good.

caramelized onions
saw these when i walked into the grocery yesterday, half the bag might already be gone...and we aren't really a chip buying family
first night using the grill this season!

Garden - Phase one

Last year I had high aspirations of growing these beautiful and bountiful tomato plants.  I must have planted like 20 or 30 some plants and waited patiently for them to grow and produce.  All of a sudden they were growing so large and taking over the side of my house.  I literally coundn't get through the plants to pick off the ripe tomatoes!  I've since learned that your average family most likely doesn't need more than maybe 5 plants.

This year I have to admit, I once again went a little overboard!  I brought just a few seed packets (errrr...maybe 20)...they were only 20 cents a piece at Walmart though, I couldn't help myself!  I bought some good soil to start them in and planted them to start indoors this weekend.  I'll update you when I transfer them outdoors and let you know how it goes!

husband thinks i went overboard...i have no idea why?
soil choice
quite a lot to label when you plant 20-some types
buster boy providing distraction
new patio set & fire pit we can't wait to enjoy!!!

Spinach & Ricotta Calzone

Me and Corey have started going to lunch together every other week.  It is such a nice break during the week and really great to see each other during our work day.  Last week we went to a little pizza place downtown on the circle, that Corey goes to every once in a while.  He ordered his regular spinach roll and let me tell you this thing was amazing.  It was full of spinach, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese and served with marinara on the side for dipping.  I knew after making the calzones a few weeks ago this would be incredibly easy to re-create at home and Friday sounded like the perfect night for it!  The only thing I would have done differently next time is sweated my spinach in a sauce pan because spinach really shrinks down when it cooks and I don't think our calzones ended up having enough in them!

What you'll need:
1 can of pizza dough (this is located with the biscuits in the refrigerated section).
mozzarella cheese
ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons butter
garlic, italian seasoning, and S&P
pizza sauce for dipping

1.  Unroll the pizza dough and cut it in half.  2.  Sweat down spinach by cooking in sauce pan for a few minutes until it shrinks down.  You can keep added fresh spinach leaves until you think you have the right amount for two calzones.  3.  Spread spinach in the middle of pizza dough and top with both cheeses.  4.  Roll/fold up dough to form a calzone pocket.  5.  Melt butter and brush over the top of the calzones.  Then sprinkle with seasonings.  6.  Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.  7.  Serve with Parmesan cheese and pizza sauce for dipping!