Saturday, January 23, 2010

Arizona Eatin'

It's been a great few days of vacation here in Arizona. The weather could be better, but who could complain about being here rather than in chilly New York City? Not me!!! And to make things even better, my bestie Chanelle and her husband, Corey, have been feeding me like a little piggy!

Night 1: Surf & Turf!! Grilled sirloin with shrimp skewers, homemade mashed potatoes and pan fried green beans (covered in bacon!)

Night 2: Chicken and spegatti a la vodka! (My treat to them!) with a steak and onion appetizer.

How delicious do these meals look!? I'm honestly surprised I haven't gained any weight since I've been here!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Quick Weekend Fix!

If your weekends are anything like mine (laziness the first half of the day, then frantically cleaning and running errands the rest of the weekend) then you probably don't spend your time preparing 5 course gourmet meals. I'd love to meet someone that does!

Let me tell you... last weekend was a doozy for me! With the stress of moving next week (Yes! No more '70's kitchen! YAY!), cleaning the apartment and packing for the vacation that I am currently on, making lunch and dinner was the last thing on my mind. After numerous cries of hunger from my boyfriend, I whipped up the quickest, yet filling thing I could think of!

Broccoli, Chicken and Garlic Pasta!
2 chicken breasts, chopped
1 8 oz package of broccoli
1/2 pound of your favorite pasta
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1) Cook pasta as directed on box, strain then set aside.
2) Add garlic and 2 tbsp of olive oil and in a large frying pan and cook chicken and broccoli over medium high heat, chop broccoli then toss in pasta. Pour remaining olive oil over pasta and toss all ingredients together

That's it for Saturday!! So easy and so delicious! This is great for a quick dinner. You've got everything you need right in one bowl: Meat, veggies and starch! YUMMY!

Since we all know packing isn't quick or easy for that matter, I was definitely NOT thinking about making dinner on Sunday night. Sadly, money doesn't grow on trees so I had to grin and bare in the kitchen. I made the fastest thing I could think of. Again, it was chicken...but who really cares!?

Satay Chicken with a Peanut Sauce
Chicken Recipe:
3 chicken breasts
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Cut chicken breasts in half, then half again. Slide on to skewer, then grill on over medium heat on either a grill pan or frying pan. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Once cooked, cover then set aside.

Peanut Sauce Recipe:
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup apple juice
2 tsp red curry paste
2 tbsp soy sauce
handful of crushed peanuts

1) Microwave apple juice for 1 minute on high.

2) In the meantime, place peanut butter, curry paste and soy sauce in a bowl. Once apple juice is heated, pour over other ingredients and whisk together. (The hot apple juice binds the ingredients together and makes the peanut butter much easier to work with!)

3) Sprinkle crushed peanuts over top and enjoy with your chicken!

How great does this look? Trust tastes amazing!

Again, I made these for a quick weekend fix, but they'd be great any night of the week!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

MMM MMM MMMac & Cheese!

I still haven't gotten up to my normal pace in the kitchen but couldn't start off the week without cooking. One of my favorite foods is cheese so I figured it would be a great time to make some homemade mac & cheese! Mmm Mmm!

Typically, I throw Velveeta, cream cheese, Cheddar cheese, a little Parmesean and a dash of milk over my noodles, but for a nice little change, I branched out and made Baked Mac & Cheese.

4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
Veggie oil
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
4 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2) Place a baking rack on a sheet pan an arrange bacon in 1 layer on baking rack. Bake for 15
to 20 minutes, until bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven - there will be hot grease on the pan! Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.
3) Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
4) Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but do not boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 tsp salt and pepper.
5) Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into baking dish. Sprinkle bread crumbs over macaroni and top with a little Cheddar.
6) Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on top.

Let cool and enjoy!

I think you'll love the combination of the smokey Gruyere with the tangy bits of blue cheese along with the sharp kick in the Cheddar. You probably wouldn't think these work well together, but trust me (and Ina Garten,) they do!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Taste of the Philippines

Sorry it's been a while. It's funny what life throws at you when you least expect it. After many changes at work, I have had no energy to come home and slave over the stove. It just was not at the top of my list.

Although I've been out of the kitchen, I performed quite a feat last week. I took a stab at a traditional Filipino noodle dish called Pancit (pronounced pun-sit.) The term Pancit is derived from the Hookien pian i sit which means "something conveniently cooked fast." You may be wondering why I am telling you this... my reason: NOTHING about this was convenient OR fast!!! (haha!) The end result was delicious, but once you see all of the ingredients that must be chopped before cooking, you will totally understand! (Another tricky thing about this dish are the noodles. The best to use are Pancit Bihon rice sticks, which aren't sold at any typical grocery store; you'll have to go to an Asian market. BUT lucky for you, the recipe comes right on the bag.)

1/4 cup cooking oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, minced
1 small cabbage, shredded
1 large carrot, in slices
1 bunch of Chinese leeks or fresh green beans
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1 bundle of bijon rice sticks
1 tsp salt
2 pieces of Chorizo, sliced
2 chicken breasts, chopped small
1 1/2 cup of shrimp

1) Prepare vegetables as instructed above. (This will take some time, but once combined, they look beautiful together. See image above.)
2) Soak rice sticks in cold water for 8 to 10 minutes; strain immediately then set aside.
3) Saute garlic in cooking oil, add onions, carrot and cabbage. Season with soy sauce and fry for 2 minutes.
4) Add broth and simmer. When vegetables are cooked, mix in rice sticks then season
with salt.
5) Garnish with Chorizo, chicken and shrimp and serve.

This doesn't sound difficult, right? It's really not. Aside from time spent chopping and mincing, the only time I ran into trouble was when it came time to mix the rice sticks in with the broth and veggies. There wasn't enough broth to fully cover the rice sticks so even after mixing, stirring, folding and anything else I could think of doing to combine the ingredients, I was still left with dry rice sticks. To make my life a little easier, I just removed any uncovered sticks and set them aside for later use.

If you're ever feeling adventurous, you should give this "convenient to cook" dish a try! ;)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Arugula Salad with Steak and Blue Cheese

I'm going to just put this out there...when I have something in my fridge or freezer, I will cook with it until it is gone. For instance, all of my chicken recipes over the last three months or steak, over the last three weeks. Is that weird? To me it just makes sense. Why let something go to waste when you have perfectly good steak or chicken in your freezer? Plus, we're still kind of in a recession so I honestly can't afford to be buying extra food when I don't need it.

Now that I have that covered...let's move on. I had steak in my freezer, not a lot of money in my wallet and was too tired to go to the store after work. Needless to say, I visited my friend Giada De Laurentiis at Food Network and came up with the perfect solution!

Arugula Salad with Steak and Blue Cheese

2 8 oz filets or top sirloin steaks, panfried or grilled with mild seasoning
5 oz fresh baby arugula
2 oz blue cheese
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
small hand full of pine nuts
small hand full of crushed walnuts
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1) In a large bowl, combine arugula, onion, pine nuts, walnuts and blue cheese.
2) Stir evoo and balsamic vinegar together to create dressing. Toss in with arugula mixture to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3) Cut the steaks crossways into thin slices. Arrange the steak slices atop the salad. Drizzle extra dressing if desired.

This salad was a great fix to a long day. (And I LOVE blue cheese, so what could be better?)

Pizza! Pizza!

Don't you hate when you see a certain type of food on a TV show then you immediately get a non-stop craving for that one thing? It's the worst! Well my friends, most of my Sunday was spent watching the Food Network and The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Pizza sucked me in! I literally have been thinking about pizza ever since. Usually, I am a simple topping kind of girl - either plain cheese or cheese and peperoni. But this episode completely changed my taste buds! The types of pizza they were talking about were incredible.

Did you know there is a pizza place in Brooklyn that serves a white pizza, covered in arugula salad and fresh parm? YUM! Or, that Duff Goldman from Ace of Cakes has Chicago style pizza flown to him in Maryland? How crazy is that? After thinking about this off and on all day on Monday, I decided I had to feed the craving! I asked my food loving co-worker Anne what her favorite pizza is and decided I NEEDED that same pie!

Shrimp Scampi Pizza!

10-16 oz store bought pizza dough
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
2 tbsp garlic, minced (appx 9 cloves)
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock (I accidentally bought broth! Oops! I think my scampi was
suppose to be a bit thicker than it turned out.)
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 cubes (1 oz) butter
dash of salt and pepper
2 tbsp fresh parsley leaves (I left this off my dish.)
1) Preheat oven to 550 degrees.
2) Stretch pizza dough to make 16 inch pizza, or remove pre-shapped dough from package. Top with mozzarella and bake on a pizza pan for 5 minutes. Crust will only be partially cooked. (I coated my dough with a little bit of evoo and garlic before adding cheese for an extra kick.)
3) In medium skillet over high heat, heat oil until very hot, remove from heat and toss in shrimp and garlic, and sauce.
4) Return to high heat and add wine, stock and lemon juice. Bring to simmer. Add butter and heat until melted, then remove from heat. Season mixture with salt and pepper. (Shrimp will finish cooking on the pizza.)
5) Spread mixture over crust and finish baking until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, let cool a few minutes before cutting.

If you are doubting this pie, I promise you... it's delicious! The shrimp tastes great with the cheese and isn't over powering. If you not a huge fan of shrimp, just pick a few pieces off! ;)

Recipe courtesy of Food Network

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! After weeks of overloading on extra carbs and tons of sugary desserts, it's time to lay off the binge eating and get back to a regular, healthy routine. To end the holiday weekend, I wanted to cook a full, well balanced meal. I've had a pork roast in my freezer for some time now, so it was time to finally use it.

Herbed Pork Roast and Cranberry Chutney with Veggie Mash and Mushrooms!
(Yup, it's a mouthful...but definitely more than a belly full!)

Herbed Pork Roast Recipe:
2 - 1/2 pound pork loin roasts
2 tbsp Herbs de Provence (I used McCormik's all-purpose seasoning as a substitute.)
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp light brown sugar
2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 teaspon crushed garlic (appx 2 small cloves, minced)
salt and ground black pepper

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) In a small bowl, stir together herbs de Provence, onion powder, light brown sugar, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. Place the pork roast in a shallow roasting pan or baking dish. Season with salt and pepper and then rub with the herb mixture.

3) Cook roast for 30 minutes per pound, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. (Roast will continue to cook up to 170 degrees F out of the oven.) Remove from oven, cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Cranberry Chutney Recipe:

1 (16 oz) can of whole cranberry sauce
1 tsp Herbs de Provence (or McCormik's all-purpose seasoning as a substitute.)
1/4 tsp crushed garlic (appx 1 clove, minced)
1 tsp lemon juice.

In a medium bowl, combine all chutney ingredients and stir well. Cover and set aside until ready serve.

Veggie Mash Recipe:
3 baking potatoes
1 cup coarsely chopped cauliflower
1/2 cup sliced carrot or 1/2 cup additional cauliflower
1/4 light dairy sour cream
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese

1) In a medium sauce pan cook potato, cauliflower and carrot, covered, in enough boiling water to cover for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain.
2) Mash with potato masher or beat with an electric mixer on low speed.
3) Add sour cream and salt. Mash or beat until combined. Season with salt and black pepper and top with Parmesan, if desired.

*This dish is a great healthy addition to the meal! Adding cauliflower and carrot to the classic mashed potatoes fortifies them with extra vitamins.

Mushroom Recipe:
8 oz container of fresh mushrooms
2 tbsp salted butter
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 chopped red onion

1) Heat 1 tbsp of butter on medium-high heat until melted. Add garlic and heat until fragrant.
2) Add 1/2 the mushrooms and 1/2 the onion to pan and saute until golden brown.
3) Remove from pan and place in a bowl, covered.
4) Repeat steps 1 and 2 with remaining ingredients. Once second batch of mushrooms is golden brown, toss in 1st batch for about 1 minute to reheat.
These aren't the healthiest mushrooms, but paired with the veggie can't feel bad about it. ;)

Herbed Pork Roast with Cranberry Chutney recipe courtesy of Sandra Lee at Food Network. Veggie Mash Recipe courtesy of Better Home & Garden New Cookbook: Prizewinning Recipes.