Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Superfood Salad

Another outstanding salad recipe!  Mark said, "I love these new creative recipes!"  I'm so glad he's thinking pomegranate arils are creative rather than weird.

1/2 cup dry quinoa
1/3 cup red onion, chopped
1 orange, peeled and segments chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup pomegranate arils (about 1 pomegranate worth)
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
salt & pepper
sauteed (cooked) shrimp

For the Lemon Vinaigrette:

2 lemons, juiced (need 1/4 cup juice)
2 garlic cloves, microplaned or finely minced
dash of sweetener (agave nectar, stevia or white sugar)
salt & pepper
6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. Set aside to cool.

2. For the Lemon Vinaigrette: combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake to combine. Or, add lemon juice, garlic, sweetener, salt and pepper into a small bowl and whisk in oil.

3. Combine cooled quinoa with red onion, orange segments, avocado, beans, pomegranate arils, corn, cilantro, salt and pepper. Pour Lemon Vinaigrette over the salad and stir to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature. Top with cooked shrimp

Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps

photo courtesy of Mel's Kitchen
I made this recipe for our family and my friend Mandy who just had a baby.  The flavors were great!  It made a lot of filling so it was tempting to fill them up really big but then it made it hard to crisp them up without the filling spilling out.  So, just make a bunch of wraps and freeze some!

1 cup cooked rice, warm or at room temperature
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 green onion, finely sliced (white and green parts)
1/2 red or green pepper, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a combination of monterey jack and sharp cheddar)
Sour cream (optional but makes them creamy and yummy)

6 burrito-sized flour tortillas (I used whole-wheat)

Mix rice together with chili powder, cumin and garlic salt. Add remaining ingredients except for cheese and sour cream. Sprinkle cheese over tortillas, leaving 1/2-inch border around edges, then arrange chicken and rice mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll stuffed tortillas, leaving edges open. Spray the tortillas all over with cooking spray.

Heat a large non-stick skillet (or griddle) over medium heat for 1 minute. Arrange 2 wraps, seam-side down, in pan and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining wraps. Serve.

Baked Brown Rice

Mark and I are trying to switch over to brown rice for a lot of our meals.  But honestly...it's just not as good as light, fluffy, sticky white rice.  BUT...this recipe for baked brown rice gets brown rice a step closer to the yumminess of white rice.  When I can plan ahead to make it this way, I will every time.

1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water (if using water, add 1 teaspoon salt)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8X8-inch or 9X9-inch baking pan. Place the rice in the prepared pan and pour in the liquid. Stir to equally distribute the rice. Cover tightly with a double layer of aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for five minutes before removing the aluminum foil and fluffing with a fork. If your rice still has a bit of liquid on the bottom or conversely, if it is dried out, adjust the baking time up or down to make changes.

Teriyaki Chicken Salad Sandwiches

So, anything tastes great on a croissant right? This recipe is no exception.  It definitely was tasty and a great picnic lunch.  However, I wanted there to be more teriyaki flavor.  Mark said he would have rather had "normal" chicken salad.

2 chicken breasts
Kikkoman Teriyaki Baste and Glaze or 1 recipe of Teriyaki Sauce
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/3 C sliced green onions, chopped
1/4 c. sliced almonds, toasted
1 mango, cut into small cubes (or 1 small can of Mandarin oranges, drained)
1 small can pineapple tidbits OR roughly-chopped chunks
1/3-1/2 c. light mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
Croissants or pitas
Lettuce leaves

Marinate chicken for at least 4 hours. Grill. While chicken is grilling, combine celery and green onions in a small mixing bowl or a plastic storage container with a lid. When chicken is done, allow to stand for about 10 minutes and then cut into bite-sized pieces. Toss with celery and onions and then add mayonnaise and mix thoroughly. Start with 1/3 c. and go from there. Add 2-3 (or more) tablespoons of Teriyaki sauce to taste. The thickness of the Kikkoman Baste and Glaze (or the homemade recipe) is important because it helps keep the dressing from becoming too runny. You want to add some of the yummy Teriyaki flavor, but you also don’t want it to be overwhelming. Refrigerate for several hours.

Right before serving, add mango, pineapple, and nuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You may need to add more mayo and/or Teriyaki–if you need it, go for it! Serve on a lettuce leaf in a croissant or a pita (or by itself if you feel the urge!)

Hawaiian Haystacks

I tried this recipe out for community group.  It was interesting.  I think I enjoyed it but it was...different.

*Makes about 4 cups chicken sauce (enough to serve 4-6 for Hawaiian Haystacks)

INGREDIENTS for chicken gravy:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size chunks (or leftover cooked chicken, cubed)
3 tablespoons butter
½ onion (about ½ cup), finely chopped
3 cloves garlic; finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk
1 cup chicken broth

shredded sharp cheddar cheese
green onions
mandarin oranges
chow mein noodles

In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat and add the onion and raw chicken (if using leftover cooked chicken, don’t add it to the skillet now, you’ll add it later). Saute the onion and chicken, if using, until the onions are soft and translucent and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about one minute, stirring, until fragrant.

Sprinkle the flour over the onions and chicken and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat for one minute – this helps get rid of the starchy, flour taste. Slowly whisk in the milk and chicken broth. Cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, and bring the sauce to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat. Add the salt and pepper. If you are using leftover cooked chicken, add it now. Continue simmering, stirring the sauce frequently, until the sauce has thickened, about 5-8 minutes.

Serve the chicken sauce over rice with your toppings of choice, such as olives, tomatoes, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, green onions, mandarin oranges and chow mein noodles.

Cooking Bacon in the Oven

This is my new favorite way to cook bacon.  No greasy stove top, easy cleanup and perfectly crispy.

Line a baking sheet with foil. Place metal cooling rack on top of foil, arrange bacon slices on the rack and place the baking sheet on the center rack of a COLD oven. Close oven door. Turn oven on to 400°F. Walk away.
Come back 17 to 20 minutes later. As soon as the bacon is golden brown, but not excessively crisp, it's done. The exact time will depend on the thickness of the bacon slices, and also on how quickly your oven reaches the target temperature. Remove the pan from the oven. Transfer the bacon to another sheet pan lined with paper towels to absorb the fat.

Tomato-Cream Sauce with Bacon and Peas

I combined a few different recipes to come up with this gem of a recipe.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 clove garlic, minced
1 (28 ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoon dried basil leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoon butter
6 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
1/2 - 1 cup frozen peas

In a saucepan, saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Make sure it doesn't burn. Add tomatoes, basil, sugar, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to boil and continue to boil 5 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates. Remove from heat; stir in whipping cream, butter, (cooked) bacon and peas. Reduce heat and simmer 5 more minutes. Pour over cooked spaghetti or pasta of your choice.

Jaime's Green Smoothie

One morning Jaime came over with a green smoothie and James thought it was very cool.  Since then, every time I make a smoothie, he says, "Remember that time Averie's mom had a GREEN smoothie?!?!"  So, I got the recipe from her and made his dreams come true.  Super yummy.

For one smoothie:
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 cup frozen mango
1/2 banana
large handful of spinach
water (depending how thick you like your smoothies)

Maple Granola

This recipe is the best granola I've ever had.  Seriously amazing.  The crunchiness, the sweet coconut chips, the subtle maple flavor...very dangerous.  I keep saying to myself, "It's a healthy snack right?"  Maybe not in mass quantities.  Thank you Chrissie for passing it on!

300 grams (3 cups) rolled oats
125 grams (1 cup) raw hulled pumpkin seeds
130 grams (1 cup) raw hulled sunflower seeds
50 grams (1 cup) unsweetened coconut chips
135 grams (1 ¼ cup) raw pecans, whole or chopped (I had almonds so used those instead)
85 grams (packed ½ cup) light brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
175 ml (¾ cup) maple syrup, preferably Grade B
120 ml (½ cup) olive oil
Dried cherries, optional

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut chips, pecans, light brown sugar, and salt. Stir to mix. Add the olive oil and maple syrup, and stir until well combined. Spread the mixture in an even layer on the prepared sheet pan. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until the granola is golden brown and toasted, about 45 minutes. Remove the granola from the oven, and season with more salt to taste. Cool completely on a wire rack. If you'd like, stir in some dried cherries. Store in an airtight container.

Note: Will keep at room temperature for up to a month.

Roasted Shrimp with Broccoli

A quick, simple recipe from Angela.  All of us gobbled it up and hands-on preparation time was like 10min.

2 pounds broccoli cut into florets (I like some stems attached)
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp pepper, divided
1 lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined
lemon zest from one medium lemon
cooked jasmine rice

Pre-heat oven to to 425.

On a large cookie sheet, toss together broccoli, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper.  Spread into a single layer and pop into the oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss together one pound large shrimp with remaining 2 Tbs olive oil, lemon zest from one lemon, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in a bowl. When the broccoli has been in the oven 10 minutes, add the shrimp to the broccoli and toss.  Put back in the oven for another 10 minutes.  Serve over a steaming bowl of jasmine rice with lemon wedges.

Thai Turkey Burgers with Broccoli Slaw

This recipe was fantastic!!  We've been switching over to doing more ground turkey in things like tacos, burrito pie, etc but Mark was skeptical of using turkey in a burger.  Well, the thing is that the turkey just takes on the flavor or whatever you put into it.  And this recipe has enough going on to make it an A+ burger.  And the slaw is a MUST.  Make these this week!

1/2 cup of bread crumbs
1 egg
1 lb of ground turkey or chicken
1 carrot, shredded
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t ginger, grated
1 t chili paste (I didn't have so I used chili sauce from TJ's)
2 T cilantro, finely chopped
2 scallions, finely diced
juice of 1 lime
1 t of lime zest
1 t red curry powder (I only had yellow curry powder)
Salt and pepper

Preheat your grill to medium-high heat for 15 minutes.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. Form ground turkey mixture into patties ( I got about 5 decent sized patties and one small one out of the lot).

Grill (flipping once for about 8 to 12 minutes, checking to make sure they are properly done before serving. Serve with broccoli slaw as a side or on top with toasted buns.

Broccoli slaw
1 bag broccoli slaw fixins
1/4 cup mayo
juice of 1 lime
bunch of cilantro
1 tbsp chili paste
1 teas of sesame oil
salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 20 minutes so that the flavors mingle before serving.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Frosted Banana Bars

My Aunt Joanne used to make frosted banana bars every summer when we visited. I haven't had them in years and now that I found a good recipe, I'm going to be making them a lot this summer.  They are a great recipe to bring to a potluck/picnic.  DON'T OVER BAKE!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (I used 3 medium bananas because I like a strong banana flavor)

2 c. powdered sugar
2 Tablespoon milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 10x15 inch jellyroll pan.*
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the mashed banana. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting with the frosting. I like to keep them in the fridge so they are cold when I eat them.
*I cooked mine in a 9x13 pan so they would be thicker and it took about 35min to be cooked through.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Fruit, Nut and Goat Cheese Salad

I made this recipe for our 8 year anniversary!  I LOVE YOU SWEETHEART! The ingredients were more expensive than a normal salad we would make (although not too bad coming from Trader Joes) but it sure was fun to eat something "fancy" on our special night.

9 ounces mixed greens
1 pear, sliced
1/2 cup pitted and sliced Medjool dates
1/4 cups pomegranate seeds
1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (I used pecans)
1/2cups dried cranberries
3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
Balasmic vinegar and olive oil for drizzling

Chipotle Meatballs

Awesome flavor in this meatball recipe.  They were too spicy for our kids but Mark and I loved them!

2 slices bacon, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large eggs
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
2 teaspoons dried oregano or finely chopped fresh mint
1-2 teaspoons chipotle powder (or a couple teaspoons of adobo sauce)

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped, about 1 cup
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-3 canned chipotles in adobo, minced fine and sauce reserved
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup beef or chicken broth

1 Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix all the meatball ingredients together in a large bowl and mix well with your clean hands for a minute or two. You want the mixture to be well integrated, but you don't want to overwork it or the meatballs will be tough.
2 With wet hands or an ice cream scoop, form meat into about 16 plum-size balls and space them out in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish, or, if you have one, a mini-muffin tin. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
3 While meatballs bake, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat and sauté the onions until they just start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the minced chipotles, the can of tomatoes, oregano or mint, and beef broth. Mix well and add salt to taste. If you want more chipotle flavor, add the reserved chipotle sauce spoonful by spoonful, mixing and tasting between spoonfuls. Boil the sauce uncovered as the meatballs cook.
4 When meatballs are ready, put them into the sauce and toss to coat. If the sauce is too thin for your taste, continue to boil it down for a few minutes. Otherwise, serve with rice, tortillas or polenta. Garnish with cilantro to serve.

Mint-Chip Ice Cream Brownie Squares

This recipe is dedicated to my mint-chocolate loving husband.  Happy Anniversary!

1 box brownie mix, baked in 9×13 inch pan (check sizes on back of box)
1 1/2 quart mint chip ice cream
1 cup dark or semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup cream (heavy or regular)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon McCormick pure peppermint extract
15-20 oreo cookies
1 8-ounce container whipped topping
optional:  McCormick green food coloring, shaved or curled chocolate or sprinkles

Line a 9×13 inch pan with foil and let foil extend at least 1 inch over edges of pan.  Bake brownies according to package instructions.  Cool completely and place in freezer to chill.  Soften ice cream until you can easily stir it with a spoon.  Gently spread in an even layer over brownies.  Place pan in freezer to chill.  Place chocolate chips in a bowl.  Heat cream in microwave until hot and bubbly.  Pour over chocolate and cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Let sit 5 minutes and then whisk until smooth.  Whisk in peppermint extract and let chocolate mixture cool to close to room temperature.  Drizzle in an even layer over ice cream layer in pan.  Sprinkle crushed cookies evenly over chocolate and lightly press in with your hands.  Top with whipped topping and spread out into an even layer.  If desired, sprinkle shaved or curled chocolate, or sprinkles on top.  Freeze at least several hours (and up to several days, covered), until firm.  When ready to serve, let sit at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes to soften.  Remove dessert from pan using foil and then cut into squares.

Shrimp Goat Cheese Quesadillas

Quesadillas with goat cheese?  This recipe has rocked my world.

4 flour tortillas
8 raw shrimp (frozen or fresh, deveined with tails off)
1/2 cup frozen sauteed pepper and onion mix
1/2 cup shredded pepperjack cheese
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
pinch of chili powder
pinch of salt
pinch of cayenne
salsa and avocado slices for serving

Heat up the frozen bell pepper and onion mix in a skillet over high heat for about a minute. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

In the same skillet, spray with cooking spray and crank up the heat to high. Add the shrimp and cook quickly for about thirty seconds. Add the cayenne pepper, salt and chili powder and toss to coat. Immediately take off heat (shrimp cook fast!).

Scatter pepperjack cheese and goat cheese on two tortillas and then top each with four cooked shrimp and a little bit of the onion and pepper mix. Lay other tortillas on top and cook each in a greased skillet over medium heat until the cheese has melted and the tortillas are golden brown and crispy.

Let cool and then cut into four slices with a scissors. Serve with avocado slices and salsa.

Bacon, Ranch and Chicken Mac and Cheese

My friend Angela sent me this recipe because she knew it's my kind of recipe.  She was right- we LOVED it!  We brought it to a picnic at the "doot doot" park one sunny afternoon.

8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
1 slice applewood-smoked bacon
8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
1/3 cup condensed 45% reduced-sodium 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded six-cheese Italian blend (such as Sargento)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
1/8 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded colby-Jack cheese

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.
2. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings in pan. Finely chop bacon; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add chicken to drippings in pan; sauté 6 minutes or until done.
3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; sprinkle flour evenly into pan. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Combine milk and soup, stirring with a whisk; gradually add milk mixture to saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat; let stand 4 minutes or until sauce cools to 155°. Add Italian cheese blend, onion powder, garlic powder, dill, and salt, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in pasta and chicken.
4. Preheat broiler.
5. Spoon mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with reserved bacon and colby-Jack cheese. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts.

Loaded Sweet Potato Soup with Candied Bacon

Mark did not like this soup but he can't stand sweet potatoes.  Although not as good as normal baked potato soup, it was still tasty.  The bacon seals the deal.

1 large onion, diced
olive oil, for sauteing
sea salt and fresh black pepper
5 cloves, garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons chives, snipped (I didn't use)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
7-8 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 can (14 ounce) vegetable or chicken broth
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
pepper jack or extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
sour cream

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 slices thick-cut bacon

Cover the bottom of a large saucepan or soup pot with olive oil, heat over medium-low heat; add onion, saute until tender and translucent, seasoning well with salt and pepper. Add garlic, saute until fragrant; stir in chives, thyme, chili powder and cinnamon, cook for a minute or two.
Add sweet potatoes; toss with onion mixture; add broth, vinegar and enough water to come to top of sweet potatoes. Season with 1 teaspoon sea salt and lots of fresh black pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile make candied bacon and shred cheese. Use an immersion blender to puree soup or carefully add to a stand blender, pureeing in batches and placing a dish towel over the lid so the steam doesn’t blow hot soup everywhere.
Serve garnished with cheese, sour cream and crumbled bacon candy.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Set a cooling rack inside the prepared pan and set aside.
Combine brown sugar, chili powder and cinnamon in a shallow dish. Dredge the bacon slices in the brown sugar mixture and place, not touching, on rack. Bake until crisp, 15 – 20 minutes. Blot excess grease with paper towels if needed.


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