Friday, December 31, 2010

Before and After

My friend, Corley, has been telling me for a while that I need to share my before and after pictures on my blog. Last year on New Year's Eve, I decided that I was going to make a resolution to get healthy. Specifically, to take my tush back to the gym and to lose the 30 pounds that I had gained. Little did I know that those 30 pounds would only be the beginning of me getting healthy. And I certainly never would have expected that 30 pound goal to become a 65 pound reality. The emotional acceptance of having a gluten intolerance has been the hardest part of this last year, but there is no bread good enough to make me consider compromising how good I feel now.

*Oh, and thanks to Corley and Matt for helping me with my photo shoot. It was great fun. :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

White Chocolate Holiday Mix

Even though this is a gluten-free recipe, I still can't eat it because it contains dairy, corn and soy. I gave some to my boyfriend, Stephen, to try. Of course, he said it tasted good. But I can just never tell from his feedback. Finding out that one of his coworkers took the majority of it from him, definitely reinforced that it's a good snack.

White Chocolate Holiday Mix

3 c air-popped popcorn
2 c Rice Chex
4 mini candy canes, crushed
1 c white chocolate chips

Mix together popcorn, Rice Chex and crushed candy canes. Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and microwave for an additional 15 seconds. Stir until all chocolate is melted. Pour chocolate over mixture. Mix well, using your hands, to coat. Spread mixture out on parchment paper to let chocolate harden.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup

When I started making this soup, I really wasn't sure if I would like it or not. Mostly because I have never had butternut squash before. I'm still not sure how I feel about butternut squash, but the coconut milk made this soup amazing! And perfect for a chilly fall day.

Butternut Squash Soup
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2 lb butternut squash, peeled and cubed
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
Pinch red pepper flake, to taste
1 t rubbed sage
2 c organic vegetable broth
1 c coconut milk
Optional toppings: pistachios, pecans, turkey bacon, dried cranberries

Toss butternut squash with oil and salt. Roast in a 375 degree oven for 1 hour, or until soft. In large pot, saute onion with salt, ground red pepper and sage for 3-4 minutes, or until translucent. Add butternut squash, onions and vegetable broth to a food processor. Process until smooth. Transfer back to large pot and bring to a simmer. Stir in coconut milk and heat through.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chicken with Apples

I love the things that come with fall. I love the foods, the weather, the clothes that come out of the depths of my closet and, of course, my birthday. This was such a perfect fall meal. Now if only this Texas weather would start to feel more like fall...

Chicken with Apples
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1 c red potatoes, cubed
1 large apple, cubed
1/4 onion, chopped
1 chicken breast, cubed
1/2 t coriander
1/4 t cumin
Salt and pepper
1/4 c unsweetened apple cider
Fresh parsley, finely chopped

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add red potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cover skillet and let cook for 8 minutes. Stir in apple and cook for 5 minutes. Add onion, cook for 1 minute. Stir in chicken, season with salt, pepper, coriander and cumin. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Stir in apple cider and bring to simmer for 3 minutes. Garnish with parsley.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Garlic Herb Shrimp

Back in May, I told you about some health issues I was having and the changes I had to make. But I haven't updated you on how I've been since I made these changes. So here goes... I feel great! I've lost weight. I no longer feel fatigued all the time. I don't get cold all the time anymore. My hair is growing in thicker. I don't crave sugar or fatty foods anymore. I don't get stomach aches when I eat. I have much better focus when talking to people, in meetings and trainings. It's amazing!

Though I don't crave foods anymore, I do sometimes get bored with my short list of foods I can eat. But today... today I got to eat shrimp again to see how my body reacted. So far, my only reaction is some very happy taste buds. Yum!

Garlic Herb Shrimp
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1 lb. shrimp, thawed
Salt and pepper
1/4 c fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 T fresh thyme, chopped
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced

Season shrimp with salt and pepper. In skillet, cook shrimp for 2 minutes. Stir in parsley, thyme, scallions, garlic and continue to saute until shrimp is cooked through.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tomato Avocado Salad

I love avocados. I could probably eat them everyday and still not get tired of them. Usually, I pair avocados with fresh lemon or lime juice. So I wasn't sure about using red wine vinegar, but they actually worked really well together.

Tomato Avocado Salad
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3 Roma tomatoes
2 avocado
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil

Slice the tomatoes into 6 wedges each. Remove pit from each avocado and slice into 8 wedges each. Season tomatoes and avocado with salt. In small bowl, whisk together red wine vinegar, scallions, salt, pepper and garlic. While whisking, slowly add in oil and whisk until combined. Arrange tomatoes and avocado on a large platter. Drizzle red wine vinaigrette over the top.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Coconut Shrimp

My boyfriend, Stephen, and I went to Chicago this last weekend. And for all four days, he was so understanding of me having to 'inspect' restaurant menus before choosing a place to eat. I got so frustrated having to do this for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but he was so patient and let me decide where to eat for every meal. It's those little things that remind me how lucky I am to have him, and why I don't mind making him meals that I can't eat.

Coconut Shrimp
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1 lb shrimp, tail-on
Salt and pepper
Ground red pepper, to taste
1/3 c flour
1 egg
2 c sweetened shredded coconut
Vegetable oil

Fill a large skillet with a half inch of vegetable oil, preheat over medium-high heat. Place flour in a small bowl. Beat egg with 1 teaspoon of water in a small bowl. Place coconut in a large plate. Season shrimp with salt, pepper and ground red pepper. Holding each shrimp by the tail, coat it in flour. Then coat each shrimp with egg. Finally, coat the shrimp with coconut, pressing in the coconut to make sure that it sticks. Fry shrimp for 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cooked through.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Granola Makeover

I have been making my own granola for years. I have even posted a recipe before. But over the years, the recipe has continued to change. The first time I made granola, I used corn syrup and brown sugar. When I think about that now, it makes me cringe. I started making it a little healthier by using honey. Then I switched to agave nectar, which doesn't spike your blood sugar. And now, I use gluten free oats.

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4 c. old-fashioned oats (mine were gluten free)
1/2 c. sunflower seeds, or nut of choice
1/2 c. chopped dried apricots, or fruit(s) of choice
1/2 c. almond butter
1/2 c. agave nectar
1 t. cinnamon

Put oats, nuts of choice and dried fruit of choice in a large bowl. Mix together almond butter, agave nectar and cinnamon. Warm mixture in microwave for 10-15 seconds if needed to break down the almond butter. Pour almond butter mixture over oats. Mix together until oats, nuts and fruit are well coated. Spread out on a baking sheet. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool completely before breaking up granola.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Caribbean Country Style Ribs

When my parents were in town, my mom, Stephen and I were talking about foot massages. Stephen then proceeded to say that he loves ribs so much that he would give me a foot rub every time I made them for him. So what do you think I did as soon as I got home from my visit to Illinois? You got it, I made him some ribs. I couldn't eat the ribs, but that's perfectly OK with me because I got a good foot rub!

Jerk Marinade
from Island Barbecue
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1 t. ground allspice
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
3 scallions, finely chopped
4 habanero peppers, halved and seeds removed
1/2 c. white vinegar
1/4 c. soy sauce
2 T. vegetable oil
1 T. salt
1/8 t. garlic powder

Place all ingredients in the food processor. Process for 1 minute. Store marinade in the refrigerator. Marinate meat for 3 hours to overnight.

Caribbean BBQ Sauce
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8 oz. tomato sauce
2 habaneros, seeded and minced
1/2 c. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. agave nectar
1 T. dry mustard
1 T. garlic powder
2 T. white vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1 t. allspice
Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients into a small pot. Let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Balsamic Fig Sauce

I made a version of this meal a year ago. Almost exactly a year ago. But I wanted to post this version because it is sugar free, but just as good. I put it on top of chicken breast seasoned with salt, pepper and fresh rosemary, caramelized onions. But it would be great on any type of meat and fish. Oh, and it's so easy to make, it's ridiculous.

Balsamic Fig Sauce
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10-12 dried black mission figs, diced
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar

In small skillet, mix together diced figs, balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup water. Cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to help break down the figs. Season with salt, to taste.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Coconut Mango Chicken

I made this meal for the fam when my parents when they were in Dallas. My boyfriend, Stephen, joined us for dinner also. Everybody loved this meal, especially Stephen and my nephew, Luke. I think left alone, the two of them could have eaten all of it. But they were nice enough to leave some for the rest of us.

Coconut Mango Chicken
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4 chicken breasts, cubed
Salt and pepper
1 t. ground coriander
1/2 onion, diced
2 ripe mangos, cubed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can coconut milk
2 c. instant brown rice

In medium pot, bring 1 cup of coconut milk plus 1 cup of water to a boil. Stir in brown rice and season with salt. Cover pot, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, turn off heat and let stand for another 5 minutes. In large skillet, saute onions for 4-5 minutes, until translucent. Season chicken with salt, pepper and coriander. Add chicken to skillet and cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add the rest of the coconut milk to the skillet and let simmer for 3-4 minutes. Stir in mango and black beans. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until mango and black beans are heated through. Serve of brown rice.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Baked Plantains

My boyfriend, Stephen, loves plantains. He could probably eat them everyday if I made them for him. And I have to admit, I too love plantains and find myself buying them more and more lately. Typically they are fried, and are absolutely wonderful that way. But I wanted to find a way to make them with less fat. So I decided to bake them, and I am so glad that I did. Now I don't feel as guilty eating so many of them.

Baked Plantains
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1 ripe plantain
2 t. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. paprika, optional

Peel plantain and slice it in large pieces, on an angle. Toss plantain with oil, salt and paprika. Bake in 375 degree oven for 15 minutes. Turn plantains over then cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until tender and browned on both sides. Note: plantains may take longer to cook if they are not very ripe.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mango Peach Sorbet

It is way too hot outside. I know it can get much more hot in Texas, but with the humidity that we have had this summer, it just makes you want something cool and refreshing to eat. This mango peach sorbet was perfect. The mango I used in this sorbet was so fresh, it needed no extra sweetener. But if you want your sorbet to be sweeter, I recommend adding some agave nectar.

Mango Peach Sorbet

2 c. mango, fresh or frozen
1 c. peaches, fresh or frozen
Juice of 1 lime

If fruit is frozen, let it thaw completely. Place fruit and lime juice in food processor or blender. Process fruit it is pureed. Using a small mesh strainer, strain fruit puree to remove pulp. Chill fruit puree in refrigerator for at least one hour. Pour puree into ice cream maker, following manufacture directions.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Quinoa With Black Bean Puree And Guacamole

I know this dish may seem very random. Especially considering that this was my dinner. Not a side dish, but my actual dinner. But there is something about the creaminess of the black bean puree and guacamole with the texture of the quinoa that made this really good. I swear!

Quinoa with Black Bean Puree and Guacamole
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1 c. quinoa
1 1/4 c.
vegetable stock
1/2 red pepper, diced
2 scallions, chopped
1 c. black beans, drained and rinsed
1 t.
chili powder
1/2 t. garlic powder

1/2 t. cumin
1 avocado
1 lime, juiced
2 T. minced onion

In pot, bring 1 cup of vegetable stock to boil. Season with salt and stir in quinoa. Reduce heat to medium, cover and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add red pepper and scallions, let simmer for 5 more minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes. In food processor, puree black beans, vegetable stock, salt, chili powder, garlic powder and cumin. Pour puree in small pot and heat through. In bowl, smash avocado with lime juice, minced onion and salt until smooth. Top black bean puree with quinoa and guacamole.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Brown Rice With Steamed Veggies

I love mixing things into my rice. Some of my favorites are green onions with coconut milk, black beans with spices and fresh veggies. The fresh veggies were my mix-in of choice today, but the star of this brown rice was the homemade vegetable stock that it was cooked in. I'm so glad that I took the plunge to make homemade stock. It was definitely worth the time.

Vegetable Stock
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3 onions, quartered
4 carrots, cut in large pieces
2 parsnips, cut in large pieces
4 celery stalks, cut in large pieces
2 c. cremini mushrooms
1 head garlic, halved
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 t. kosher salt
5 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves
15 peppercorns

Toss onions, carrots, parsnips, celery, mushrooms and garlic with oil. Roast in 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. Place roasted vegetables, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, peppercorns and salt in large stock pot. Top with 3 quarts of water. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover pot with lid. Let simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Strain stock and store in airtight containers. Can be frozen for up to a month.

Brown Rice with Steamed Veggies
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2 c. instant brown rice
2 c. homemade vegetable stock
1 c. broccoli, chopped
1/2 c. carrots, chopped
2 scallions, chopped

Bring vegetable stock to boil. Season with salt. Stir in brown rice, cover pot with lid and reduce to simmer. Let simmer for 4 minutes. Add vegetables on top of rice and let simmer for 1 more minute. Turn off heat and let rice stand for 5 minutes. Stir with fork to incorporate veggies.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tilapia Lettuce Tacos

I have now officially started my journey of making myself more healthy. So what do you do when you have a short list of foods you can eat? You get really creative with that short list. My food is actually not as restricted as I was afraid it would be. And I am determined that the foods I can eat make a tasty meal. These tacos were definitely tasty. If you like more of a crunch with your taco 'shell', try romaine hearts.

Tilapia Lettuce Tacos
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4 tilapia fillets
Chili powder
Salt and pepper
1/2 shallot, thinly sliced
1 c. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c. black beans, drained and rinsed
Butter lettuce

Season both sides of tilapia with chili powder, salt and pepper. In large skillet, cook tilapia for 2-3 minutes per side, or until just cooked through. Remove tilapia from skillet. In same skillet, add mushrooms and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until browned. Add black beans, season with salt and pepper. Cook for another 2 minutes to warm beans through. Flake tilapia apart and lay in lettuce. Top tilapia with mushrooms and black beans and top with sliced shallot.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Chili Powder

I frequently use chili powder in my cooking. But I have two problems with store bought chili powder. One... it's not the most flavorful spice in the spice rack. It seems like you need a lot of it to make any difference in a recipe. And two... it contains silicon dioxide to make it free flowing. I don't even know what that stuff is, but spices just shouldn't contain chemicals! So naturally, I decided that I needed to make my own chili powder. It's easy to make and has incredible flavor.

Chili Powder
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2 ancho chili peppers
1 T. garlic powder
1 T. cumin

Remove stem and seeds from peppers. Cut peppers in thin strips and place in a coffee grinder. Pulse grinder until the anchos are a coarse powder. Remove from grinder and mix in garlic powder and cumin. Store in airtight container.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs

Last Thursday was my last contract day for the school year. And it seems that the lack of structure does not do me well. As soon as I'm done with the school year, apparently I'm done with doing anything productive. Including posting on my blog. This is the same thing that happened to me last summer. I really need to work on that this summer.

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs

Monday, June 7, 2010

Steak Sauce

When I made this meal on Saturday, my boyfriend, Stephen told me that I must have wanted to stay in Vegas longer because I made such a nice dinner. As he was eating, I kept hearing, "baby (mumble, mumble) good (mumble) mmmmm!" I love that he's so easy to please.

Steak Sauce
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adapted from Rachael Ray

1 c. tomato sauce
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
3 T. brown sugar
1/2 t. apple cider vinegar
1/2 t. onion powder
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. dry mustard
Salt and pepper
1/4 t. hot sauce

Combine all ingredients in a small pot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce to simmer and let cook for 15 minutes. Good warm, room temperature or cold.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Marinated Steak Tacos

This week, my boyfriend, Stephen, and I went to Las Vegas. We left really early Monday morning and got back really late last night. We had such a great time, and we stayed in this amazing new hotel, Vdara. We did not want to come back to reality in Dallas yesterday, and it certainly didn't help that we had to sit on the plane in Vegas for over 2 and a half hours before taking off.

Marinated Steak Tacos

1 lb. sirloin steak
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 t. red wine vinegar
1 t. extra virgin olive oil
2 t. chili powder
1 t. ground red pepper
1 t. cumin
2 t. onion powder
1 t. garlic powder
Salt and pepper
Corn tortillas
Tomato slices
Queso fresco

In a large skillet, caramelize onions on medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 30 minutes. Whisk together, vinegar, oil, chili powder, ground red pepper, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Marinate steak for 1 hour. Wrap tortillas in foil. Warm them in a 200 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until warm and pliable. In skillet over medium high heat, sear steak for 4-5 minutes per side. Let steak rest for 10 minutes, then slice thinly. Top steak with onions, tomato and queso fresco. Serve with black beans and brown rice.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Grilling Marinade

With Memorial Day upon us, it is the time of year for being outside and grilling. And now that I have access to a very nice grill on Sundays, I want to grill everything. Which is exactly what I did today. I coated the broccoli, corn, onion slices and par-cooked sweet potatoes with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, then grilled them until tender.

Grilling Marinade

1/2 c. white wine vinegar
1/2 c. lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. dry mustard
Salt and pepper

Whisk together all ingredients and marinade meat for at least 1 hour before grilling.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tilapia With Burst Tomatoes

WARNING: If you get really squeamish at just the idea of blood or needles, you may want to skip this story and go straight to the yummy recipe.

I had to get blood drawn for lab tests this morning. Apparently I have small, rolling veins. Getting blood drawn has frequently been a problem for me, and today was no exception. The first arm the nurse tried (Yeah, I said first), she missed my vein. She then started wiggling the needle around in my arm trying to get it in my vein, which was unsuccessful. So, she went to my other arm. She hit the vein and drew my blood just fine, or so I thought. About 45 minutes later, my arm was still kind of sore, which is odd. And now I have a big, ugly bruise and my arm is swollen. Swollen!! What in the world did she do to me?

Tilapia With Burst Tomatoes
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4 tilapia fillets
Salt and pepper
Chili powder
2 c. cherry tomatoes
2 c. mushrooms, quartered
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, smashed
Extra virgin olive oil

Toss cherry tomatoes and garlic with oil, salt and pepper. Lay tomatoes and garlic out on a baking sheet. Roast in a 250 degree oven for 30 minutes. Toss mushrooms and onions with oil, salt and pepper. Add mushrooms and onions to tomatoes and roast for another 30 minutes, or until tomatoes burst and mushrooms are tender. Season both sides of tilapia with salt, pepper, chili powder and paprika. Saute tilapia in skillet for 3-4 minutes per side.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Citrus Chicken and Wild Rice

My little niece, Claire who just turned 1, has started to give kisses. Usually when she gives kisses, she really just bites your lips and drools all over your face. But now she closes her mouth and then opens it when she kisses. It's SO cute! Not that I'm bragging, but I am the first person that she has given real kisses to.

Citrus Chicken
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4 chicken breasts, cut into cutlets
1 lemon, zested
1 lime, zested and juiced
Fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 avocados, diced
2 scallions, chopped

Mix tomatoes together with avocado, scallions, salt and lime juice. Season both sides of chicken cutlets with salt, pepper, lemon zest, lime zest and thyme. In large skillet, saute for 3-4 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Top chicken cutlets with tomatoes and avocados.

Wild Rice
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1/2 c. wild rice
1 c. instant brown rice
2 c. chicken broth
1 c. sliced mushrooms
2 c. broccoli, cut up in small pieces

Saute mushrooms in skillet for 5-6 minutes, or until browned. Set aside. Bring chicken broth to a boil. Season with salt and stir in wild rice. Reduce to simmer, cover and let cook for 45 minutes. Stir in brown rice, cover pot. Simmer for 5 minutes. Top rice with broccoli and mushrooms. Return lid to pot, turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff rice with fork.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lemon Garlic Chicken with Sweet Potatoes

My boyfriend, Stephen, has decided that he wants to work on his 6-pack for summer. Yeah, you read right. Someone told him a couple of weeks ago that if he wants his 6-pack to show, he needs to cut down on carbs. So he has been eating salads and eating less carbs. Then after the salad I made him on Friday, he told me it was overly healthy and he thinks he needs more carbs. So much for that short-lived health kick.

Lemon-Garlic Chicken with Sweet Potatoes
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2 chicken breasts, cut in bite size pieces
Salt and pepper
2 T. paprika
2 t. cumin
1 t. ground red pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
4 slices bacon, cut up
2 lbs. sweet potatoes
Green onions, cut on bias

In gallon sized storage bag, mix together paprika, cumin, ground red pepper, garlic, lemon juice and oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Put chicken in storage bag and toss to coat chicken. Let chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes. Pierce sweet potatoes multiple times with fork and microwave for 3 minutes to soften slightly. Cube sweet potatoes. In large skillet, brown up bacon. Remove bacon from skillet and drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of grease. Add sweet potatoes to skillet and toss to coat. Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through and browned. Stir bacon back in with potatoes. Remove chicken from marinade and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Top with green onions.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Steak and Shrimp Salad

Ok, I have to tell you about my doctor's appointment on Wednesday. First of all, I really like my new doctor, Dr. Loafer. She really listened to everything I talked about. She probably wished I would stop talking so much, but she never cut me off. Even though I went to her about my thyroid, she is going to look at how everything in my body is working. So... it looks like while I'm fixing some issues with my insides, I will have a very short list of foods I will be able to eat, for 6 months. I have to admit, I'm a little bit nervous about it. Ok fine, I'm a lot nervous about it. But I know it will be worth it to be healthy again. Hopefully I will have the will power to keep cooking for others while refraining from eating it myself. I will continue to update you all on how things are going.

My friend, Corley, grew the tomatoes I'm using in this salad. They are so good. Thanks lady.

Steak and Shrimp Salad
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Romaine lettuce
Tomatoes, diced
Green onions, sliced
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
1 lb. thin sirloin steak
3/4 lb. red potatoes, cut in wedges
1/2 lb. shrimp
Lime zest
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Red wine vinaigrette

Season steak with salt and pepper. In skillet cook steak for 3-4 minutes per side, or until cook through. Let steak rest, then dice steak. Toss potatoes with oil and season with salt and pepper. Saute potatoes in large skillet until cooked through and browned on both sides, about 25 minutes. Season shrimp with salt, pepper and lime zest. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side. Toss lettuce with vinaigrette. Top salad with potatoes, shrimp, green onions, tomatoes, steak and hard boiled eggs. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cuban Style Pork

Yesterday I started a story for you explaining why I haven’t been blogging much lately. So here’s part two…

Part Two

The biggest factor addressed in this book for me is something I never thought would be a part of this blog... I need to maintain a gluten-free diet. Let me tell you up front, I am not happy about this. I repeat, NOT HAPPY!!! Finding this out is like a psychological and emotional stab in the heart. But I as much as I don't want to admit it, I have been feeling better without gluten in my diet. I haven't gotten to 100% yet, but I am eating about 90-95% gluten-free. For some reason, though, this is effecting my inspiration and motivation to cook. As silly as it sounds, I feel so restricted. I know there are a ton of things I can and do make that don’t contain gluten, but I love me some bread, and the idea of not cooking with it has me messed up. It’s been three weeks now and I know I need to get over it. I’m working on it. I hope to start cooking more again. But I am determined not to make this blog about eating gluten-free even though you will probably see more recipes that don’t contain gluten.

I hope I haven’t bored you terribly with my two part, rambling story. But the moral of this story is that if you have hypothyroidism, or have symptoms of hypothyroidism, I highly recommend this book. **In fact, I have a doctor's appointment Wednesday afternoon, so I will let you all know how it goes.

Cuban Style Pork

Monday, May 17, 2010

Asian Steak Stuffed Potatoes

I try not to be too long winded in my blog, but today I have a story for you. I've decided for the sake of keeping it short and peaking your interest, I am going to make this a two part story. So I hope you come back tomorrow for part two...

Part One
I have been bad at blogging lately, partially because of being busy. But there is another reason, and I feel I need to explain. The story actually starts back last August... After going to my yearly doctor's appointment, I found out that I have hypothyroidism. So I started taking medication and very quickly started feeling better. Then in January, as I started working out more and eating healthier, I started feeling tired all the time again. My visit back to my doctor in February came and went with no explanation of my returned fatigue. Then about a month ago, my friend Marisa recommended this book to me. Well, with knowledge comes responsibility... (to be continued) Click for Part 2

Asian Steak Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
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2 small sweet potatoes
1 1/2 lb. sirloin steak, thinly sliced
1/4 c. soy sauce
2 T. rice vinegar
2 T agave nectar
1 T. sesame oil
1 t. ginger, freshly grated
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 T. butter
1/3 c. half and half
Salt and pepper

Pierce sweet potatoes multiple times with a fork. Bake in 400 degree oven on a baking sheet until cooked through, about 1 hour. Mix together soy sauce, rice vinegar, agave, sesame oil, ginger and garlic. Marinade steak for at least 30 minutes. In large skillet, cook steak with marinade for 5-6 minutes. When sweet potatoes are cooked through, split the top of the potatoes and scoop out the inside. Mash sweet potatoes with butter, half and half, salt and pepper. Stuff mashed sweet potatoes back in skins and top with steak and marinade.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Banana Cupcakes

Today is my niece, Claire's first birthday. She had an adorable cupcake themed party. So I made different sized cupcakes and a small 5 inch cake for Claire to dig into. I thought that banana would be a good flavor for a 1 year old. She was so cute and had a really good time eating up her cake.

Banana Cupcakes

2 sticks butter, at room temperature
2 c. sugar
7 egg whites
3 c. cake flour
3 1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. milk
1/2 c. over ripened bananas, mashed

In food processor, process milk and mashed bananas into a smooth, light puree. Shift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt, set aside. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg whites, 2 or 3 whites at a time. With mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and banana puree alternately in 2 or 3 additions, beating until just blended between additions. Divide batter into muffin tins and bake in a 350 degree oven for 18-20 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 box powdered sugar
Cream together cream cheese and butter. With mixer on low speed, slow add powdered sugar until well incorporated.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pizza Burger

These burgers are ridiculously good. I could pretend that these burgers are healthier because they are made from ground turkey breast, but I'm pretty sure that the pepperoni and mozzarella cheese more than makes up for any chance they had at being healthy.

Pizza Burger
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1 lb. ground turkey breast
2 t. dried basil
Salt and pepper
1/4 c. pizza sauce
20 pepperoni slices
4 slices fresh mozzarella
Fresh basil, thinly sliced
4 sesame buns, lightly toasted

Mix ground turkey with basil, salt and pepper. Form into 4 equal sized burger patties. Cook in skillet or grill for 6-7 minutes per side, or until cooked through. In skillet, cook pepperoni slices for 4-5 minutes, or until slightly crisp and rendered of fat. Drain pepperoni on a paper towel. In the last 3 minute of the burgers cooking, top each burger with a tablespoon of sauce, 5 slices of pepperoni and a slice of mozzarella. Tent burgers with foil and let cheese melt.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Salmon With Avocado Sauce

Yesterday was the first Mother's Day since I've lived in Dallas that I got to spend with my mom. It was such a fun weekend. I think that mom had a great time playing with her grand-babies and seeing their new house. But as always, the weekend went by way too quickly.

Salmon With Avocado Sauce

4 salmon fillets
Salt and pepper
Fresh thyme
2 limes, zested and juiced
2 avocados
1/2 c. water

Season salmon with salt, pepper, fresh thyme and lime zest. Saute salmon in large skillet, over medium heat for 5-6 minutes per side. Smash avocados with lime juice and salt. Mix in water until is becomes a thick sauce. Pour sauce over the salmon.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Chili Lime Salmon Salad

I know people who just are not a fan of the taste of salmon. I, on the other hand, love it. I think it is so rich and decadent. And the best thing about it is that salmon is so healthy for you. It tastes like a guilty pleasure, but there is no need for feeling guilty. Every time I eat salmon, I wonder why I don't eat it more often. Then I remember, it's because it can be quite pricey.

Chili Lime Salmon Salad
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2 Salmon fillets
Salt and pepper
Chili powder
2 limes, zested and juiced
4 c. lettuce, chopped
2 t. extra virgin olive oil
2 scallions, chopped
1 corn on the cob
1 avocado, diced

Season both sides of salmon with salt, pepper, chili powder and lime zest. Saute in skillet for 4-5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Cook corn and cut from the cob. Toss lettuce with juice of 1 lime and oil. Top lettuce with scallions, corn, salmon and avocado. Squeeze juice of other lime on top of salmon and avocado.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pineapple Jerk Chicken

My boyfriend, Stephen, loves when I bring him food to work. His older brothers are quite jealous that he frequently gets homemade food. The other day, his oldest brother threatened Stephen that he was going to start coming to his job and eating his food. That would be interesting.

*I substituted the brown rice for Stephen's favorite, coconut rice.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Southwestern Turkey Burger

Q: Have I been cooking lately?
A: Yes

Q: Have I been taking pictures of what I've been cooking?
A: Yes

Q: So why haven't I been posting anything since last Thursday?
A: Um, I've been too darn busy and too darn tired. Unfortunately, this last weekend was nothing compared to what the next 3 weekends are going to be like. But I'm going to do my best to keep up with the posting.

Southwestern Turkey Burger

1 lb. ground turkey breast
1 1/2 T. southwest seasoning
1/2 c. Swiss cheese, shredded
2 slices bacon, cooked and cut in half
BBQ sauce
2 sesame seed buns

Mix the ground turkey together with the southwest seasoning. Form into two equal burger patties. Cook burgers in skillet over medium heat for 6-7 minutes per side, or until burgers are cooked through. Top burgers with cheese and bacon slices. Tent skillet with foil and let cheese melt for 3-4 minutes. Top with bbq sauce.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pizza Pinwheels

I made these a couple of weeks ago for my nephew and niece. Then I also made some for my boyfriend, Stephen. Everyone absolutely loved them, and they are so easy to make. But you might want to make a lot, because it is really hard to eat just one.

Pizza Pinwheels

2 puff pastry sheets, thawed
1/4 c. pizza sauce
1/2 c. pepperoni slices
1 c. smoked cheddar cheese, shredded

Unfold the puff pastry sheets and crimp the seams together, if necessary. With long side of the sheet facing you, spread half of the pizza sauce on the sheet, leaving about 2 inches without sauce along the long side of the sheet farthest from you. Sprinkle sauce with 1/4 cup cheese, layer half of pepperoni slices and top with 1/4 cup cheese. Roll puff pastry into a pinwheel, rolling away from you. Press finger along edge of seam to seal. Put puff pastry on cutting board, seam side down. Repeat process with second puff pastry and other half of ingredients. Place pinwheels in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and slice into 12 equal pinwheels. Place pinwheels flat on greased baking sheet. Bake in 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuna Pasta

There are not very many vegetables that my boyfriend, Stephen, will eat. There's onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, carrots, corn... yeah, that's all. So I have a tendency to cook these vegetables as much as I can for him. Well, this weekend, as I was finishing making dinner, he came in the kitchen and said, "Mushrooms? Again? I'm so tired of mushrooms!!!" Maybe I need to start grinding up vegetables and hiding them in a cheese sauce.

Tuna Pasta

3 cans tuna, drained
1 lb. egg noodles
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 c. sliced cremini mushrooms
2 clove garlic, minced
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 c. white wine
2 c. half and half
1 c. frozen peas
Salt and pepper
Fresh parsley, chopped

Cook noodles in well salted boiling water for 6-7 minutes. In large skillet, saute onions, garlic and mushrooms for 4-5 minutes, until mushrooms are browned. Season with salt and pepper. Add butter, and let it melt. Add flour and whisk it together with butter, cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in white wine, bring to simmer and let cook down for 2-3 minutes. Stir in half and half, salt and pepper, bring to simmer and let thicken for 4-5 minutes. Stir in tuna, frozen peas and drained noodles. Cook for 4 minutes, or until peas are warmed through. Top with parsley.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Beef With Broccoli

My family moved into their new house on Saturday. And yesterday I got to use their beautiful new kitchen. In fact, I think that I'm the first one to use the beautiful kitchen (with an island in it). Did I mention that the kitchen is beautiful? I think I might move in. They have the space. They won't know I'm there... Until they start smelling what I'm cooking.

Beef with Broccoli

1 1/2 lbs. top sirloin steak
4 c. broccoli florets
Salt and pepper
1/2 c. chicken broth
1 T. cornstarch
1 1/2 T. soy sauce
1 T. hoisin sauce
1 T. dry sherry
Put steak in the freezer for 15 minutes for it to firm up. Remove from freezer and slice thinly. Season with salt and pepper and saute in a large skillet over high heat for 4 minutes. Add broccoli florets and cook for another 5-6 minutes, or until broccoli is tender. In small bowl, whisk together chicken broth, cornstarch, soy sauce, hoisin sauce and sherry. Stir sauce into beef and broccoli and cook for 5 minutes. Serve with rice.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Chicken Sausage Bake

I hate to sound cliche, but I really do believe that homemade food is good for a person's soul, whether it's a meal that you made or one that was made for you. I know some people (mostly single men; my boyfriend, Stephen included) who never cook for themselves. Never. Which means to me that they need someone to cook for them, at least occasionally. That's why I shared some dinner with my neighbor today.

Chicken Sausage Bake

2 lemons, zested and juiced
1 T. fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
1/4 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 gluten free chicken sausages
2 lbs. potatoes, cut in large pieces
2 large portobello mushrooms, sliced
1/2 onion, cut in wedges
1 c. broccoli florets

Mix together, lemon zest, thyme, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice and oil. Toss half of oil mixture with potatoes and roast potatoes and lemon halves in a 425 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Simmer chicken sausages in water for 8-10 minutes. Remove sausages from water and cut on bias. Toss mushrooms, onions, broccoli and sausage with the rest of the oil mixture. Add mushrooms, onions, broccoli and sausage to potatoes and roast for 15-17 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and the sausage is browned.

Spicy Tomato Sauce

1-6 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2-15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/4 onion, finely chopped
1 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. ground red pepper
Salt and pepper

Saute onions for 3-4 minutes, or until tender. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, garlic powder, ground red pepper, salt and lots of pepper. Let simmer for 10 minutes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mushroom and Gorgonzola Envelopes

This last Saturday, I was talking to my friend Marisa, who is a holistic nutritionist. I was telling her how proud of myself I am because I have really cut down on my beloved cheese. And now here I am, four days later, making something with cheese and buttery puff pastry. But in my defense, I told her I cut down, not cut out the cheese.

Mushroom and Gorgonzola Envelopes

1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
2 portobello mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c. Gorgonzola cheese
1/4 c. fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Lightly roll out the puff pastry dough until it is about 9x13. Using a pizza cutter, cut puff pastry in 4 equal squares. Evenly distribute the Gorgonzola, mushrooms and parsley in the middle of each puff pastry square. Fold each corner of the square together in the middle and crimp the edges. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until browned.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Brownie Bottom Cheesecake

I love having a reason to bake something for a celebration. Recently a coworker got a promotion and I think that is a perfect reason for a special treat. And this brownie bottom cheesecake was definitely a special treat.

Brownie Bottom Cheesecake
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adapted from Cupcakes, Cookies & Coffee Cakes

brownie bottom:
1/2 c. butter
4 oz. semisweet bakers chocolate, chopped
1 c. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c. milk
1 c. flour

18 oz. cream cheese (2 1/4 packages), softened
2/3 c. sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. sour cream

Melted chocolate, for drizzling

Melt butter and chocolate in large pan over low heat, stirring frequently, until smooth. Remove from heat and beat in sugar. Add eggs and milk, beating well. Stir in flour and pour into a greased 9 inch springfoam pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly while preparing cheesecake. For cheesecake, beat together cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Stir in sour cream, then pour over brownie bottom. Bake in 325 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until the center is almost set. Let cool before removing for the pan. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours for cutting. Drizzle with melted chocolate.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Herb Breadcrumb Topped Halibut

Today was the last Sunday lunch with my family in their old house. It was strange to leave that house for the last time today, but I am very excited to finally see their new house. Next Sunday, instead of heading west, I will be heading northeast. Let's hope I don't start off in the wrong direction.

Herb Breadcrumb Topped Halibut

1 lb. halibut fillet
Fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
2 pieces 9 grain bread, toasted
1 c. fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 stick butter, melted
Lemon wedges

Cut halibut in 3-4 ounce fillets. Season halibut with salt, pepper and fresh thyme. Tear the bread up in large pieces and place in a food processor. Pulse food processor until you have course breadcrumbs. Mix breadcrumbs with melted butter, parsley, salt and pepper. Top halibut with breadcrumb mixture, pressing down slightly so breadcrumbs stay on halibut. Bake in 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, or until halibut is cook through. Squeeze lemon wedge on top of fish.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spicy Shrimp with Fried Pullao

I think that sometimes I use my boyfriend, Stephen, as an excuse to cook. I saw this recipe and really wanted to make it. I have plenty of food in my refrigerator. I have no real reason for making this. So I told myself that I needed to make it to take to Stephen at work. Of course, Stephen doesn't mind being used for the sake of being fed.

Fried Rice Pullao

2 T. +2 t. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/3 c. broken up angel hair pasta
1/4 t. garam masala
1/8 t. turmeric
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 c. vegetable broth
1 c. instant rice
1/2 c. chopped carrot
1 egg, beaten
1 c. frozen peas
1 scallion, cut on bias

In medium saucepan, saute onion with 2 teaspoons of oil for 4 minutes, until tender. Mix in pasta and let toast, stirring frequently for 3-4 minutes. Stir in garam masala, turmeric, salt and pepper. Add broth and bring to boil. Mix in rice, remove from heat, cover and let sit for 7-8 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Cool rice completely. In large skillet, saute carrots with 2 tablespoons of oil for 4 minutes. Add rice and cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently. Push rice to the sides of the skillet, add egg to the middle of skillet and stir rapidly until cooked through. Stir eggs into rice and add peas. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until peas are warmed through. Mix in spiced shrimp. Top with scallions.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Asian-Style Shrimp Frittata

I have LOTS of ham leftover from Easter. You every try to buy a bone-in ham for just two people? I'm pretty sure it would have to come from a baby piggy, and we just don't need to go there. So, I have found myself putting chopped up ham into everything that I make this week. If you don't have an extra 4 pounds of ham in your refrigerator like I do, you can certainly leave it out.

Asian-Style Shrimp Frittata

1/4 c. soy sauce
3 T. sugar
1 t. oyster sauce
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1/2 bunch asparagus, chopped
1/4 lb. frozen shrimp, thawed and chopped
1/2 c. chopped ham
4 scallions, chopped
1 bean sprouts
8 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper

In small pot, whisk together soy sauce, 1/4 cup water, sugar and oyster sauce. Bring to boil and reduce for 5 minutes. In large, oven-safe nonstick skillet, cook mushrooms and asparagus over medium high heat for 5-6 minutes, or until browned. Add in ham, shrimp, scallions and bean sprouts, cook for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add in beaten eggs. Move the skillet around so the eggs get in between the vegetables and meat. Pull the eggs away from the sides, letting eggs flow underneath. Put in 375 degree oven for 12-14 minutes, or until eggs are set.