Sunday, April 14, 2013

Orzo with Salmon and Feta

I've mentioned my husband's love for fish before. If I'm going to cook fish, odds are it's going to be salmon. Tilapia isn't very flavorful and halibut is just so expensive. Salmon is a nice compromise and as such, is usually the fish I cook with. 

This was one of my first ventures into the land of seafood a couple years ago and it quickly became a favorite. It is easy, tasty, and is still good as leftovers (we eat it cold) - which is a critical of almost every meal made at this house. 

I've tweaked it to our preferences so feel free to change things up if you want to. It only makes it better when it is exactly how you want it. 

Yield: 6-8 servings

1 lb Salmon
8 oz orzo pasta
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1 1/4 cup feta in oil and spices (if you are missing one or both of those components, season with Italian Seasoning and cover in olive oil)
1 avocado
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425. Season the Salmon with salt and pepper and cook through, about 15-20 minutes. While the salmon is cooking, bring a pot of salted water to boil and add the orzo. Cook according to package directions. 

Dice up the avocado and put in a large bowl. Cover with the lemon juice (this will help the avocado to not brown), soy sauce, and red wine vinegar. Add the feta and tomatoes. When the Salmon is done, dice it up and add to the mixture. Add the orzo when it is done as well. Mix everything together and enjoy!

Source: adapted from Avocado Pesto

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Jalapeno Chicken Haystacks

When I first saw this recipe, I knew it had potential but I wasn't 100% sure what I wanted to do with it. I figured I would play around with it and see what I could come up with. The pressure was on when I ended up serving this experiment to my whole family and not just Hunter. Usually I reserve the experiments for just the two of us. 

I opted to go in a direction similar to Hawaiian Haystacks. I knew I would probably end up serving it with rice and topping said rice with the sauce. I really like colorful plates as well and what better way to get that then topping it with red tomatoes and green avocados? This actually falls pretty far from the mark of the original recipe, although it uses all the same ingredients. I'm happy the direction I went with this and plan to make it many more times in the future. 

One of my favorite recipes growing up was Hawaiian Haystacks. Whenever I got to request a meal, that was it. So it was fun to make a play on the classic favorite. 

Yield: 8-10 Servings

4 chicken breasts
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
1 chicken bullion cube
Juice of half a lemon
3 jalapenos, sliced
1 tbsp cornstarch + 1 tbsp cold water
1 8 oz package cream cheese
3 cups rice

Toppings can include but are not limited to:
Bacon, cooked and diced
Shredded Coconut

Season the chicken breasts with the chili powder and salt and place in a crockpot. Add the water, bullion cube, lemon juice, and sliced jalapenos (you can make this as hot as you want or not depending on how many seeds you leave in - I left the seeds of one jalapeno and didn't have hardly any bite. I'll probably use the seeds of at least two next time) and cook on low for 5-6 hours. 

Remove the chicken from the crockpot and shred. Switch the crockpot to high. At this point, I used my immersion blender to blend in the jalapenos so the sauce was smooth, but that certainly isn't necessary. Add the cream cheese to the sauce in the crockpot and mix until smooth. Mix the cornstarch with the cold water and add to the sauce. Add the shredded chicken back in and allow to cook for 20 more minutes. The sauce should be nice and thick. 

Serve over rice and top with whatever you like!

Source: adapted from Diabetic Connect

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Three of my dad's favorite things in the world are chocolate, peanut butter, and cheesecake. So when I had to opportunity to feed my family dinner and dessert a few days before his birthday, this was the treat I chose to make.

It turned out super tasty - and suuuper rich. Even with my high tolerance for all things decadent, I struggled to finish one whole piece so make sure you have a lot of people to share it with! 

I looked over numerous recipes to come up with the perfect one, and this was it. It has pretty striped layers instead of two distinct ones and it uses real peanut butter, not peanut butter chips. I hope you enjoy this as much as we all did!


4-5 oz. Chocolate graham cracker crumbs (I used one packet out of the box)
3 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp sugar

4 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup chocolate chips
10-15 mini Reese's Cups, quartered

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Coat the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan with cooking spray. Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar until combined and press into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes and let cool completely. 

Melt the finely chopped chocolate over a double broiler until smooth and allow to cool. Beat the cream cheese until fluffy (about 3 minutes) and then add the sugar in a slow, steady stream until combined. Add salt and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until just combined after each addition. Divide the cream cheese mixture in half. Add the peanut butter to one half and the melted chocolate to the other. Spoon about 1/4 of the peanut butter mixture onto the crust, followed by 1/4 of the chocolate mixture. Repeat this process until all of both mixtures are used up. Bake until the cake is set but still slightly wobbly in the center - about 1 hour. Let cool completely. Run a knife along the edge of the pan and remove the sides. 

Put the chocolate chips in a small bowl. Heat the cream either on the stove or in a microwave safe bowl until just boiling. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and let stand for about 1 minute before mixing. Mix until smooth and creamy and pour over the top of the cheesecake. It's okay if it runs down the sides, it just adds to the look. Top with quartered Reese's Cups. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. 

Source: adapted and combined recipes from The Girl Who Ate Everything and Martha Stewart

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Proscuitto Wrapped Chicken

Sometimes when we get bored in our house, we watch random things on TV. One such example was right before Christmas when we ended up watching the Rachel Ray show - it was her count down of the top 10 recipes from 2012. My husband loves anything wrapped in bacon or anything like bacon (ie: prosciutto).

It took me a couple months to actually find prosciutto at our local grocery store (granted, I didn't try super hard and once I did I found it that day - look around where they slice the meat, fyi). This was the first thing I made once I found it and I have bought it multiple times since.

This was another recipe that was very well received. I've been on a roll lately. haha. Hopefully your family loves this as much as my husband did!

Yield: 4 servings

4 small chicken breasts
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp dried parsley (or 1 tbsp fresh, chopped)
1/2 tbsp dried basil (or a few leaves fresh)
1 tsp dried thyme
4 thin slices prosciutto
1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Butterfly and pound the chicken breasts to about 1/4 inch thickness. Season inside with salt and pepper.

Stir the ricotta, Parmesan, garlic, parsley, basil, and thyme together in a small bowl. Divide into 4 and put on the prepared chicken breasts. Wrap the breasts up so the stuffing is completely covered. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each breast, covering as much as possible.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the prosciutto wrapped chicken and brown all edges, about a minute per side. Transfer to the oven and cook for 12-15 minutes, until cooked completely through.

Source: adapted from Rachel Ray

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spicy Thai Noodles

Sometimes I feel like all we eat is pasta. It is generally easy, quick, and tasty. I feel a little less bad eating pasta 3 days in a row if I mix up the Italian flavorings with some other Thai, for example.

These noodles were super tasty and got the comment "These could be served in a restaurant" from my husband...and he was talking about leftovers (which is what he usually eats - the joy of me working the day shift and him working swing). Score.

The original recipe says to serve them cold, but we both liked them better warm. They were good cold, but the flavors really stood out more when heated. Feel free to take your pick. Also, the original recipe doesn't include any meat, but I had a couple thin cut pork chops that needed a home and these seemed like a fitting place for them.

Yield: 4-6 servings

1 lb linguine
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
1/2 cup coconut oil
6 tbsp honey
6 tbsp soy sauce
1 small bag shredded carrots
3/4 cup peanuts, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1/4 lb pork chops (optional)*

Cook the noodles according to package directions.

Meanwhile, melt coconut oil in a small pan. Add the crushed red pepper and heat for 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn the red pepper. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain out the red pepper flakes, reserving the oil. Add honey and soy sauce to the oil and whisk.

When the noodles are done and drained, toss with carrots, peanuts, and cilantro. Top with oil/honey/soy sauce mixture and mix well.

*If using pork chops: dice, season with minimal salt and pepper, and saute until cooked through. Then add to remaining ingredients.

Source: adapted from A Small Snippet

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Salmon with Grapefruit Avocado Salsa

This is another recipe that comes from my Christmas Present - Weeknight Fast and Fresh. I made this after 12 hours at work and an hour and a half at the gym. I definitely didn't want to spend more time than I had to in the kitchen. I was tired and wanted food. 

We looooved this meal. The tartness of the grapefruit was nicely countered by the creaminess of the avocado and the salmon was super tasty. I served it over rice pilaf, which accompanied it perfectly. 

It looks pretty too, no? Aesthetically pleasing food is always a bonus.

One last thing - this recipe is designed to feed two people, which works perfectly for my husband and me. It could also be easily doubled or tripled to feed more. 

Yield: 2 servings

1 lb Salmon Fillet
Olive Oil
Chili Powder
Large Grapefruit
Avocado, diced
Large Jalapeno, diced
3 tbsp freeze dried minced Red Onion
2 tbsp fresh, minced Cilantro
Juice of 1 lime

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the fish on a baking pan, brush with olive oil, and generously sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chili powder. Bake until cooked through, 20-25 minutes.

Peel and slice the grapefruit, removing as much of the white pith as possible and cut into 1/2 inch segments. Put the grapefruit segments in a small bowl. Add the avocado, jalapeno, red onion, cilantro, and lime juice. Stir to combine.

Spoon salsa over the cooked fish and enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Williams Sonoma's Weeknight Fast and Fresh

Monday, February 11, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie Bake

What is more comforting than Chicken Pot Pie? And when is a more comforting time to eat comfort food than when it rarely reaches 30 degrees outside? This is the perfect chicken pot pie recipe and definitely hit the spot.

It is pretty involved dish wise, but is worth the extra scrubbing work. The filling is creamy and delightful and the biscuits are moist and tasty - which is a big feat for me. It does make a lot so be prepared to eat a lot of leftovers or share with friends. Most importantly, enjoy it and let it warm your soul on these cold days.

Yield: 6-8 servings

For the filling:
3 cups chicken broth
1 lb chicken thighs and/or breasts
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
3 large carrots, thinly sliced
2 ribs celery, diced
Salt and pepper
4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried thyme
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1 cup frozen peas

For the biscuits:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
6 tbsp cold butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the chicken and broth in a large pot and bring to a simmer. Allow to cook for 8-10 minutes until the chicken is no longer pink. Remove the chicken to a bowl, reserving the broth for later use, and shred (this works great using the basic kitchenaid attachment - seriously, it will change your life).

Meanwhile, begin making the biscuits by combining flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl. Add the butter and work into the mixture until course and crumbly. Mix in the Parmesan cheese and then the heavy cream, mixing just until combined. Crumble onto a baking sheet, in 1/2 inch pieces, and bake for 10-13 minutes.

Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan and add in the onions, carrots, and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add to the bowl with the chicken.

Return the pot to medium heat and melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk so that there are no chunks. Add the reserved chicken broth and cook until mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in parsley, thyme, and lemon juice then add the chicken and vegetable mixture and stir until mixed. Pour mixture into a 9x13 pan and top with biscuit pieces. Bake for 15 minutes until bubbly and golden.

Source: slightly adapted from Annie's Eats