Sunday, February 28, 2010

Zuppa Toscana

I have no idea what zuppa toscana means. But I had this soup at Olive Garden recently. It was so simple and good that I had to recreate my own version. I am very pleased with how it came out, and it was so quick and incredibly easy to make. It's also pretty healthy.

Zuppa Toscana
6 c. chicken broth
2 c. water
1 lb. turkey sausage
2 large Russet potatoes, thinly sliced
1 t. red pepper flakes
1/3 c. half and half
2 c. kale, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper

In large pot, bring chicken broth, water and potatoes to a boil. Season with salt, pepper and 1/2 t. red pepper flakes. Let boil for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Season turkey sausage with salt, pepper and 1/2 t. red pepper flakes. Brown turkey sausage in skillet, drain any excess fat. Mix turkey sausage into potatoes and broth, let cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in half and half and kale. *Stir gently so potatoes do not break up too much.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cranberry Orange Vodka

Even though I posted the Cherry Vanilla Vodka a couple weeks ago, my adventures in flavoring vodka actually started with Cranberry Orange Vodka. I have made this vodka several times, for fun, for gifts and upon request. I enjoy making this vodka and look forward to experimenting more with different flavors, but the funny thing is, I don't even like vodka.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


My boyfriend, Stephen, worked a double shift yesterday. So of course I thought he deserved a meal brought to him at work. But I really didn't want to have to go to the grocery store. The result was baked taquitos and spicy rice. These were so easy, it's almost embarrassing... Almost, because they were pretty good too.


8 corn tortillas
1/2 lb. ground turkey breast
Salt and pepper
1/2 c. salsa
1/2 c. shredded pepper jack cheese
Cooking spray

In skillet, brown ground turkey breast. Season with salt and pepper. Once the turkey is browned, stir in salsa. Wrap tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for 40 seconds. Put a small amount of ground turkey and cheese down the middle of a tortilla. Wrap tortilla into tight roll. Put on greased baking sheet. Coat all taquitos with cooking spray and cook in 350 degree oven for 19-20 minutes, or until tortillas are browned and crisp.

Spicy Rice

1 c. uncooked white rice
1 c. water or chicken stock
1/2 t. ground red pepper
1 t. chili powder
1/2 t. cumin
1 t. garlic powder
Salt and pepper

Bring liquid to boil. Stir in spices and rice. Remove from heat, and cover. Let sit for 5-7 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Coconut Cake

I never used to eat coconut much before I met my boyfriend, Stephen, but now I love it and can't get enough of it. Luckily I made this cake for someone else so there was no temptation of a piece of cake to throw me off my plan. But it was very difficult for my finger to not slip into the frosting.

* I toasted the coconut flakes in a dry skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally so it doesn't burn.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I have decided that I need to bump up my workouts. So on top of my regular workouts, I went to an abs class on Monday. Then it just so happens that the class I took yesterday ended up having an abs class with it too. And just to clarify, an abs class is 15 minutes of working out your ab muscles... 15 minutes!! It took me two tries to get out of bed this morning.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 c. diced carrots
2-4.5 oz. cans diced green chile's
1/2 t. cumin
1 t. chipotle powder
Salt and pepper
8 c. chicken broth
2 c. frozen corn
4 corn tortillas, cut in strips
Lime wedges

In large pot, saute onions and carrots for 5-6 minutes. Mix in chicken and green chile's. Season with cumin, chipotle, salt and pepper. Add chicken broth. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Add corn and corn tortillas, simmer for 5-7 minutes more, or until corn tortillas have dissolved. Serve with baked or regular tortilla chips. Squeeze in lime juice.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Jumbo Chocolate Cupcakes

For Christmas, my Aunt Alice gave me a jumbo-size cupcake pan. So when she asked for some jumbo cupcakes for Valentine's Day, I was more than willing to try out my new pan. I was so excited with how they turned out. And I think Aunt Alice was pretty pleased with them too.

*The 6 jumbo cupcakes use the same amount of batter as 12 regular sized cupcakes. (This recipe makes 12 jumbo cupcakes)

*The white frosting has coconut extract and the pink frosting has vanilla extract.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Marinated Chicken

I feel like such a rock star when I cook for my family on Sundays. They always ooh and aah over everything that I make them. And my nephew, Luke, was really impressed today that I cut the chicken breasts to look like hearts for Valentine's Day. Ok, so I like all the oohs and aahs, so I didn't tell him that butterflied chicken breasts naturally have a heart shape.

Marinated Chicken
4 chicken breasts, butterflied
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1/2 c. sherry vinegar
1/2 c. oil
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 head roasted garlic, recipe follows
1 T. fresh thyme
1 T. fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper

Mix together vinegars, oil, onion, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Marinate chicken for at least 1 hour. Remove chicken from marinade, and cook in skillet for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.

Roasted Garlic
1 head garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Cut the top of the garlic head off to expose all of the cloves. Put garlic head in small piece of foil with cloves facing up. Drizzle oil on garlic, season with salt and pepper. Wrap garlic if foil, roast in 400 degree oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven, cool slightly and squeeze the garlic cloves out of the paper.

Roasted Asparagus
1 bunch asparagus
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Trim asparagus of their woody ends. Toss asparagus with oil. vinegar, salt and pepper. Roast in 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, to desired doneness.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Funny Little Valentine

Yesterday I asked my boyfriend, Stephen, what his favorite meal was. This was a laborious conversation that ended up the same as it started. I still don't know what his favorite meal is, but I figured I couldn't go wrong with steak and potatoes. And a good choice it was, Stephen was still talking about the food 20 minutes after he finished eating.

Black Pepper Steak with Creamy Bourbon Sauce
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Rib eye steak
Grill seasoning
Black pepper
1 t. oil
1 t. flour
1/2 c. Bourbon
1 c. beef broth
2 T. half and half

Season steak with grill seasoning and black pepper, to taste. In skillet, sear steak for 5 minutes per side. Remove steak and let rest for 10 minutes. To skillet, add oil and flour. Mix together and let cook for 2 minutes. Add Bourbon, mix well and let reduce down until Bourbon is almost gone. Stir in beef broth, let simmer for 3 minutes. Stir in half and half, season with black pepper.

Fingerling Potatoes
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2 lbs. fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 T. fresh thyme
2 T. fresh rosemary
1 bunch fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
2 t. red wine vinegar

Toss potatoes with oil, salt and pepper. Roast in 400 degree oven for 50 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through and browned on top. Finely chop thyme, rosemary and parsley. Mix together with garlic, red wine vinegar, salt pepper and oil. Drizzle herb mixture over potatoes.

Jalapeno and Bacon Wrapped Shrimp
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4 jumbo raw shrimp
Salt and pepper
2 jalapeno peppers
4 strips bacon, par cooked

Roast jalapenos in 500 degree oven until skin is blackened on all sides. Put peppers in bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 15 minutes and wipe skin. Cut off the top of the peppers, cut them in half lengthwise and remove seeds and ribs. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Wrap each shrimp with half a jalapeno and a slice of bacon. Secure with toothpick. Roast in 400 degree oven for 7-8 minutes, or until shrimp is cooked through.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Red Velvet Cookie Sandwiches

After I made these, I told myself that I would have just a bite of one of them, for quality control purposes, of course. Well, the next thing I know, the whole cookie sandwich was gone. And it was heavenly. The sugar must have gone straight to my head, because soon after I started dancing around my apartment like a complete idiot. But the dancing makes up for eating the cookie sandwich, right?

Red Velvet Cookie Sandwich
1 stick butter, at room temperature
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 T. red food coloring
1 t. vanilla
1 3/4 c. flour
1 T. cocoa powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. buttermilk
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla

Beat together butter and sugar for about 3 minutes. Add egg, red food coloring and vanilla, beat until well incorporated. Mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Alternately beat flour mixture and buttermilk into wet ingredients, starting and ending with buttermilk. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Spoon out 1 tablespoon of batter onto parchment paper, and slightly spread batter into circular shape. Bake in 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through. Place cookies on rack to cool completely. Beat together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Slowly incorporate powdered sugar. Spread 1-2 tablespoons of cream cheese frosting on the bottom of one cookie. Place the bottom of another cookie on the frosting to make sandwiches.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cherry Vanilla Vodka

It has been snowing in Dallas all day. It's cold and yucky outside. Tonight is a good night for hot chocolate, but why drink hot chocolate to warm you up when you could drink cherry vanilla vodka to warm you up. And the best part is, I don't have school tomorrow.

Cherry Vanilla Vodka
1 bottle 750 ml Svedka vodka
1 lb. cherries, pitted
1 c. sugar
1 vanilla bean

Split vanilla bean down the middle, length-wise. In medium pot, add cherries, sugar and vanilla bean. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes. Cool slightly. Add cherry mixture and vodka to large jar. Let sit for 7 days, shaking jar every other day to stir mixture. Strain vodka using cheesecloth.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Salmon with Mustard Sauce

The quest for healthy eating continues. This quest includes brown rice. I actually made this on Saturday for my boyfriend, Stephen and I. I wasn't entirely sure what he would say about the brown rice, especially because it wasn't his beloved coconut rice. So I mixed some coconut milk in his rice at the end, and if he noticed, he made no mention. The salmon and rice was not quite enough for him though, so he had some soup to go along side.

Salmon with Mustard Sauce
Salmon fillets
Old Bay seasoning
Salt and pepper
Dijon mustard
Spicy Brown mustard
Agave nectar

Season salmon with Old Bay seasoning, salt and pepper. Mix together equal parts of Dijon mustard, spicy brown mustard and agave nectar. Set aside. In skillet, cook salmon over medium high heat for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Drizzle mustard sauce over salmon.

Brown Rice with Mushrooms and Onions
2 c. instant brown rice
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 c. sliced mushrooms
Salt and pepper
1/2 c. coconut milk, optional

Cook rice according to package directions. In large skillet, saute onions over medium low heat for about 10-15 minutes, or until they start to caramelize. Add mushrooms and cook for additional 5 -7 minutes, or until mushrooms are browned. Season with salt and pepper. If desired, mix in coconut milk. Mix in brown rice.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Super Bowl Party

I had every intention of posting my Super Bowl recipes last night, but I was just too tired. Maybe it was all the fun I had on Sunday. And I have to admit, there was way more eating and socializing than watching football and commercials.


3 lbs. ground turkey breast
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped
2 t. dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 c. red wine
29 oz. can tomato sauce
2-15 oz. fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 T. garlic powder
1 T. dried basil
1 T. dried oregano
1 t. marjoram

Season ground turkey with garlic, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix well and shape into about 48 meatballs. Bake in 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked through. In large pot, saute onions and peppers for 5-6 minutes. Add wine, and let reduce for 3 minutes. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, garlic powder, basil, oregano, marjoram, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add meatballs and let simmer for 30-45 minutes.

Spanikopita bites
2 pkg. phyllo dough shells
1 c. thawed and drained frozen spinach
5 wedges Original Laughing Cow cheese
1 c. feta cheese
Salt and pepper

Mix together spinach, cheeses, salt and pepper. Fill each shell. Heat in a 350 degree oven for 6-7 minutes.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Chicken Noodle, No Soup

Somehow, I completely forgot that I made this last week. And I'm really not sure why. My nephew, Luke, decided that it was so good that he needed seconds. Though he did leave some veggies behind in the bowl. Funny how my nephew and my boyfriend, Stephen, can both only take so many veggies in one meal.

Chicken Noodle, No Soup
1 rotisserie chicken
2 c. matchstick carrots
3 celery stalks, cut on bias
1 clove garlic, minced
2 t. dried thyme
2 t. dried oregano
1 lb. wide egg-noodles
1 T. butter
3 scallions, cut on bias
1 c. frozen corn

Bring large pot of water to boil. Add noodles and cook for 6-7 minutes. Drain noodles and toss with butter. Remove skin from chicken. Shred chicken with forks. In large skillet, cook carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and oregano for 5 minutes. Add chicken, scallions and corn. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Top noodles with chicken mixture.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Easy Taco Salad

I told you earlier about trying to go back to healthier habits, but I have to make a confession. It goes beyond healthier habits, for the first time in my life, I have decided to go on a diet. I have gained weight over the last couple of years (I'd like to blame getting comfortable with that cute boyfriend of mine, Stephen). But since Christmas, I have lost 17 of those pounds. And I still have 13 to go (Please don't do the math). Because of this, I find myself cooking less lately. I'm eating smaller portions and making bigger batches for leftovers so I'm not tempted to eat out. This recipe is so easy, it's ridiculous. But it's very good.

Easy Taco Salad
1 lb. ground turkey breast
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 c. frozen corn
1 c. + 2 T. salsa
2 T. sour cream

In large skillet, brown the ground turkey. Drain any extra fat. Mix in 1 cup of salsa, black beans and corn. Let all the ingredients heat through. Mix together sour cream and remaining 2 tablespoons salsa to make a dressing. Top lettuce with turkey mixture and dressing.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Eggplant Stuffed Chicken Breast

I made this for my boyfriend, Stephen, not know whether he would like it or not. And sometimes I have a hard time knowing what his feedback really means. So, I also gave some to my friend, Corley and her husband, Matt, to taste test for me too. I was surprised to hear that Stephen really, really liked the chicken, and pleased to find out that Corley and Matt liked it too. (But I think I still trust Corley and Matt's opinion more)

Eggplant Stuffed Chicken Breast
5-6 chicken breasts
1 medium eggplant, peeled and finely chopped
1 c. shiitaki mushrooms
1/4 t. ground red pepper
1/2 t. cumin
1 t. oregano
Salt and pepper
2 strips bacon, cooked and chopped
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 T. fresh parsley, chopped
2 wedges Laughing Cow cheese

Using paring knife, cut a pocket in chicken breast without cutting all the way through the breast. In large skillet, cook eggplant for 4 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for 3 more minutes. Season with ground red pepper, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix in bacon, scallions, parsley and cheese, until well blended. Remove from heat and let cook slightly. Stuff chicken with eggplant filling. Secure with toothpicks so filling does not come back out of chicken. In large skillet, sear chicken breasts for 4-5 minutes on both sides. Transfer to oven safe pan and cook in 350 degree oven for 7-10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Crisp Potatoes
4-5 small red potatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Grill Seasoning

Boil whole red potatoes until fork tender. In large skillet, add a layer of oil. Over high heat, add par-cooked potatoes. Take the back of a spatula and smash potatoes flat. Season with grill seasoning. Cook for 5-6 minutes, or until crisp. Flip potatoes and cook until crisp.