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

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

I was excited about this recipe, like, really excited. I love Philly Cheesesteaks and I love any dish that involves stuffing a vegetable. Score on both accounts.

Perhaps the best part about this meal was the roast beef. I didn't just buy prepackaged thin sliced roast beef, I went to the deli counter and chose which one I wanted them to slice for me. This definitely worked to my advantage and I highly recommend you do the same. I was worried about the mushrooms though. I don't like the texture of mushrooms, although I do enjoy the flavor. I was able to work around this by slicing and dicing them until they were in small chunks. This way we got the flavor of the mushroom without the icky texture. Score again.

Try these babies. You won't be sad you did.

Yield: 2-4 servings

8 oz Thinly Sliced Roast Beef
8 Slices Provolone Cheese
2 Large Green Peppers
1 Medium Onion
6 oz Mushrooms
1 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Dice the onion and mushrooms. Heat the olive oil and butter and add the onions, mushrooms, and garlic. Season with a little salt and pepper. Saute until the onions are beginning to caramelize, about 15-20 minutes. Slice the roast beef into strips and add to the onion/mushroom mixture and cook for another 10 minutes.
Slice the green peppers in half lengthwise and line each half with a slice of provolone cheese. Put the beef mixture into the pepper halves and top with another slice of provolone cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown.
Source: slightly adapted from Peace, Love and Low Carb

Friday, February 1, 2013

Black Bean Tacos

This is one of those recipes that I secretly hoped my husband wouldn't ask me what I was making and just be surprised when I told him dinner was ready. Unfortunately, he asked and I had to tell him. I think he was dreading the day that I was going to make Black Bean Tacos all week long.

When the day finally came, I added in ground beef to the original recipe to help give him the idea that they would taste good. He savored the smell of the meat cooking and I was hopeful. Then he ate them. And his response? He loved them. He even insisted that I blog about them because they were that good. That is not something he does very often and is always a sure sign of enjoyment on his part. Moral of the story: don't judge a book by it's cover or a recipe by it's name. You just might be surprised. Just ask my husband.


1/4 lb ground beef
1 tsp chili powder
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup corn
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
6 ounces pepper jack cheese, grated
Olive oil
8 -12 corn tortillas
Optional toppings:
Hot sauce
Sour cream
1 avocado, sliced

Put the ground beef and chili powder in a skillet and brown. Add the ground beef, black beans, corn, red pepper, onion, cumin, paprika, and cilantro in a bowl and mix together.

Heat just enough olive oil to finely coat the pan. Add one tortilla and cook for a few seconds on one side, then flip over. Sprinkle some cheese on half, add about 1/4 cup black bean mixture, top with more cheese and fold tortilla in half, making a mini quesadilla. Cook for about one minute on each side. Continue with the rest of the tortillas until the mixture is gone.

Enjoy with your choice of toppings! We chose sour cream and avocado and weren't at all disappointed.

Source: adapted from Cornerstone Cooking

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chocolate Almond Macaroon Bars

My mom knows me so well. My Christmas haul: Hershey's 4 books in 1 cookbook, Williams Sonoma Fast and Fresh cookbook, and my first ever fancy cutting board. Needless to say, I have been trying a lot of new things lately. This recipe is brought to you from the Hershey's 4 books in 1. It does not disappoint. 

I took this picture a couple days after making this. Yes, between Hunter and I, we had made this much of a dent in the pan all by ourselves. I could have eaten the whole thing all by myself, truth be told. 

You can't really go wrong with oreos, coconut, almonds, and chocolate. I did think about subbing out the white chocolate (I don't even think it should be considered chocolate if you want my real opinion, haha), but I am glad I didn't. It added a nice flavor and makes them look pretty.

Yield: 24-36 bars, depending on how you cut them

2 cups Oreo crumbs (this took about 5/6 of a package of oreos - so you still have a few to munch on afterwards)
6 tbsp butter, melted
6 tbsp powdered sugar
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
3 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Turn the oven on to 350 and grease a 9x13 baking pan. Combine the Oreo crumbs, melted butter, and powdered sugar and mix until well combined. Press into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Mix the sweetened condensed milk, coconut, and almonds together and spoon over the oreo layer. Spread it into an even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until coconut begins to brown.  Allow to cool completely. 

Microwave semisweet chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream together in 30 second bursts until well mixed and completely smooth (it took me a minute and a half). Allow to cool until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Smooth over cooled bars and top with white chocolate chips. Cut into bars once chocolate has cooled and enjoy!

Source: slightly adapted from Hershey's Brownies, Bars, and Treats

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

I am on a Do-It-Yourself kick. If there is something I am capable of doing at home without too much extra effort, I do it. This Spaghetti Sauce is one of those. It's easy, tasty, makes a ton, and in the long run is cheaper than buying a can of sauce every time we eat spaghetti (which, I am happy to report, is far less frequently than it used to be).

Because I was in the mood, I did this as a step - by - step post. Sometimes it's fun that way. 

Yield: about 5 cups

1 onion
2 tbsp minced garlic
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
3 14.5 oz cans tomatoes - any kind works, I used diced
3 6 oz cans tomato paste
2 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp dried parsley
2 bay leaves

Empty your cans of tomatoes and tomato paste into a crock pot.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan.

Dice your onion and add the onion and garlic to the heated oil and saute for 1-2 minutes.

While the onions are garlic are saute-ing, add the water to the tomatoes and mix well. I used my immersion blender so that my sauce would be nice and smooth. You can leave it chunky, or make it smooth however works best for you.

Add in the onions, garlic, all the seasonings except for the bay leaves, and the remaining 3 tbsp olive oil. 

Mix it all together

...and put the bay leaves on top.

Cook in the crockpot on high for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. 

When your 3 hours are almost up, brown 1lb of Italian sausage (I use hot Italian sausage) or ground beef.

Remove the bay leaves - be warned, you might have to dig for them.

Give it one last stir.

Add about 1 1/2 cups to the pan with your browned meat and allow to heat and mesh flavors together for about 5 minutes. Serve over noodles and enjoy!

Since it makes much more than 1 1/2 cups, I froze the rest for later use. 3 times of spaghetti in one go? Yes, please!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Coconut Crusted Chicken

Early last month, we went to Hawaii for a few days. The vacation was far shorter than either of us would have liked and it took a couple days to adjust to the fact that we were pulled out of our vacation much sooner than we liked. One thing that helped ease the pain was this coconut chicken. It was easy, tasty, and brought back sweet memories for us through our taste buds.

I also served ours with both the dipping sauce included in the recipe and Thai Sweet Chili Sauce. It was much tastier with the orange marmalade sauce, but the chili sauce was good too. Enjoy!

1 egg
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into chicken finger sized pieces
1/2 cup butter, melted

Dipping sauce, optional:
1/4 cup orange marmalade
2 tsp Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

In a small bowl, beat the egg. In a medium bowl, mix together the coconut, flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Individually dip the chicken breasts first into the egg, then into the coconut mixture, then place on a greased baking sheet. When all the chicken is dipped and on the baking sheet, pour melted butter evenly over the chicken then bake for 30-40 minutes.

To make the dipping sauce, mix the orange marmalade with the Dijon mustard.

Source: adapted from Pennies on a Platter