Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Southwestern Quinoa Bowl

there are a couple versions of this recipe floating around the food blog world, so chances are you have already seen a dish similar to this one. however, i thought it was worth sharing my take on the meatless, high protein meal.

it's the perfect, quick, fresh summer meal. this meal is protein packed with quinoa and black beans. i like to add grape tomatoes, avocado, and corn with a light lime vinaigrette.

the longest part of this meal is the 15 minutes it takes to cook the quinoa. chopping the veggies while the quinoa cooks allows this dish to be on the table in under 30 minutes. that's what i call a great weeknight meal.

Southwestern Quinoa Bowl
serves 2

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 3/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
15 grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup canned corn, drained
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, chopped
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 lime, zested and juiced
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/8 tsp pepper

bring quinoa and chicken stock of a boil over medium high heat. reduce to low and let simmer 10-15 minutes until tender. let cool 5-10 minutes.

meanwhile, chop tomatoes and avocado. in a large bowl, whisk together olive, lime, garlic, salt and pepper. stir all ingredients into lime vinaigrette and enjoy at room temperature or chilled.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Creamy Lemon Garlic Pasta

some days i just crave a big bowl of pasta at the end of the day. i love a nice, creamy, garlicky angel hair. there is something about the thin as straw angel hair that i love to twirl and gobble up.

this dish comes together quickly for an easy weeknight meal. you could easily add broccoli, peas, and/or chicken to this pasta to make it a one pot meal. the yogurt gives it creaminess without the fat, so go ahead and splurge!

Creamy Lemon Garlic Pasta
serves 2

4 oz angel hair pasta
1 tsp unsalted butter
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs minced garlic
juice of 2 lemons
salt and pepper to taste (i use garlic salt)
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish, if desired
1 tbs chopped basil
1 tbs chopped italian parsley

cook pasta according to package directions. meanwhile, heat butter an oil in a large skillet over medium heat. add garlic and cook, stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes. add lemon juice, salt and pepper. reduce heat to low. when pasta is finished cooking, drain and save 2 tbs of cooking liquid. add yogurt to skillet and add pasta water to thin. add cooked pasta to skillet and toss well to coat. sprinkle in parmesan cheese, basil, and parsley and serve immediately.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

This Weeked . . .

this weekend, i am celebrating my dad - along with millions of other people. okay, millions of other people aren't celebrating my dad, they are celebrating their dad, but mine deserves all the accolades.

for all of the uncountable, unclassifiable things he has done for me, i say thank you with his favorite dessert, coconut cake. thanks for every life lesson you have taught me, for ever project you have done with me, for all the "character" you have forced me to build, for every oil change you helped me with, and for all the love and support you have given me over the years.

i am very blessed to have such a special relationship with you and i look forward to finding that 9ZZ and beating you once and for all:)

instead of millions of people celebrating him, my dad will have to settle for the best burger in baltimore and coconut lime cake. i think he'll make it through - somehow!

talking bout my dad . . .

Coconut Lime Cake
adapted from Doreen Howarth's Ultimate Recipe Showdown Winning Recipe

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbs coconut rum
4 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup lite coconut milk

1 cup plain nonfat greek yogurt
1/2 cup sugar
2 limes, zested and juiced
2 tsp coconut rum
1/4 cup lite coconut milk
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup butter, room temperature
4 oz mascarpone cream, room temperature
1 lb box powdered sugar
1/4 cup lite coconut milk
1 tbs coconut rum
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour 2 (9") cake pans

in an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. add coconut rum and eggs, one at a time. in a medium bowl, whisk together flours, salt, baking soda, and powder. add coconut milk and flour mixture alternating between the two, beginning and ending with flour.

pour batter into two cake pans and bake from 25-27 minutes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. remove from oven and let cool on wire racks. once cool, remove from pans.

to prepare filling, whisk together yogurt, sugar, lime juice, lime zest, coconut rum, coconut milk, and shredded coconut. set aside.

poke one layer of cake all over with chopstick. spread filling on top and refrigerate until chilled. top second layer on top of filling and refrigerate until ready to frost.

to make frosting, beat butter and mascarpone together with an electric mixer until smooth. add half of powdered sugar and little at a time. beat on medium high speed for 1 minute. slowly add coconut milk and coconut rum. add remaining powdered sugar a little at a time. beat on medium high for 1 minute.

frost cake and top with coconut or add coconut and beat until combined, then frost cake. enjoy!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Homemade Steak Sauce

let's just be honest here, i love red meat. i don't eat a lot of it, but when i do, i want it to be worth it. i love a good juicy bison burger, and i'm crazy about a nice sliced pink marinated flank steak in a steak fajita

however, a perfectly grilled steak just may top my list. some may think it's sacrilegious, but i love steak sauce on my steaks. yes, i season the steak with freshly ground black pepper and garlic salt and yes, it tastes good just like that. but i really think steak sauce sends it over the top. i like A-1, but i have been wanting to make my own steak sauce for a while now. 

i adapted this recipe from one i found on tasty kitchen. i will probably tweak it in the future, but i kind of think i nailed this one on the head on my first try. the chipolte chili powder adds just a touch of smokiness that is so good and brings out the grill flavor of the beef. it also happens to be good on chicken and with veggies in a stir fry - talk about versatile!

if you love a good steak sauce, ditch the store bought bottle and whip up a batch of this. i stays good in the fridge for quite a while, especially if it's sealed up nice and tight in a mason jar.

Homemade Steak Sauce

2 cups low sugar ketchup 
4 cloves Garlic, Minced 
½ cup Onion, Chopped 
2 tbs Dijon Mustard 
½ cup Lemon Juice 
¼ cup Worcestershire Sauce 
¼ cup White Vinegar 
¼ cup low sodium Soy Sauce 
¼ cups Light Brown Sugar 
½ tsp Cracked Black Pepper
½ to 1 tsp chipolte chili powder (depending on how spicy you want it)
½ tsp garlic salt

blend all ingredients together in a food processor or blender until smooth. smother your favorite steak.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Have a Ball

i love mason jars. they are perhaps one of the most versatile and useful things in the kitchen. i found a box full of ball jars in the basement of my grandfathers house last year. i dusted them off, ran them through the dishwasher and haven't looked back since.

i use them to store rice, couscous, pasta, quinoa, and other grains. they look all nice and neat and organized on the kitchen counter. and, because they are glass, i can see what the contents are.

i also use them to make homemade salad dressings. empty jam jars work well too (just throw them in the dishwasher to get them super clean). everything goes into the jar and the lid gets screwed on. a couple of good shakes and the dressing is all mixed.

if you peak into my fridge, you can even find some mason jars storing things like simple syrup, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and even nuts.

i have even seen them filled with sand and candles, using them as homemade candle jars.

of course, you could also use them for their intended purpose, canning food. there's a great idea if you are super talented and have lots of time (and food) on your hands.

i'm sure there are other uses out there i haven't even thought of yet too. do you use jars? if so, what for? do share!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Oreo Cream Chip Cookies

i have a crazy good treat for you today. i actually came across this recipe a while ago and was planning just the right time to make it. the right time presented itself recently.

my niece had a boy/girl pool party for her 10th birthday and i knew this was my opportunity. yes, the perfect opportunity to try out these outrageously decadent cookies and know that i would only be able to eat a couple because thirty ten year olds would soon swoop in and take care of the rest for me.

the plan was perfect, the only problem, the cookies are crazy good. my tummy wanted more. my thighs had had enough though and were grateful for the sugar-happy kids. they managed to eat almost every cookie in between handfuls of gummy bears and spoonfuls of ice cream.

ahh to be a kid again. luckily, these cookies take you right back. the cookies are packed with mini oreos, hershey's cookies and cream candy, oreo pudding mix, and mini chocolate chips. we're talking crazy good with a capital C! the only thing that makes these better is a glass of milk.

Oreo Cream Chip Cookies
adapted from delightful bitefuls

1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 (4.2 oz) package instant Oreo Pudding mix
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
5 oz Hershey's Cookies N Cream Candy Bars broken into small pieces
1 cup mini oreo cookies, cut in half
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

preheat oven to 350°F.

combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. cream together butter and sugar. beat in pudding mix until blended. add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. add the flour mixture and mix to combine. stir in cookies n' cream pieces, oreo pieces, and chocolate chips.

using a scooper, place golf ball sized dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. bake for 7-8 minutes. do not over-bake. let cool for 5 minutes on before moving to a cooking rack. store in air-tight container.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Parmesan and Horseradish Crusted Fish

E and i had a funny conversation the other night. i went a little something like this:

me: for some strange reason, i really want a tuna melt right now. ok, the reason isn't really all that weird, i am looking at the pioneer woman's tuna melts.
E: there could be few things worse than hot tuna salad. it has mayonnaise and should be served chilled. why would you make it hot with cheese on top?
me: but nearly everything is better with cheese!
E: i just don't think that sounds good. i think i like to keep my cheese and my fish separate. but wait, i like mcdonald's fish fillet and it has fish and it has cheese. hmmm . . . but is it really fish? and is it really cheese?

ok, random conversations between E and i at 10pm aside, it got me thinking, have i made any fish recipes with cheese on them?

chicken is great smothered in cheese - chicken parm, chicken casserole, chicken quesadillas, etc. beef is great topped with cheese - cheeseburgers, steak with bleu cheese, fajitas, and so on. but what about fish? i struggled to think of any recipes with cheese topped fish.

then i remembered this one. i got this recipe from one of the best personal chefs in baltimore, B. i owe my personal chef career to her. i met B when i was just starting out and she took me under her wing. so, thanks B. you have given me many a wonderful recipe. but today, you have given fish the gift of cheese!

this dish tastes wonderful just broiled with the sauce on the fish, however, i happened to have some crab meat on hand. so, like any good marylander, i threw it on the fish and voila! a great dish just got better:)

Parmesan and Horseradish Crusted Tilapia
serves 4

4 tilapia fillets (or other mild white fish)
4 tbs grated parmesan cheese
2 tbs plain greek yogurt
2 tbs dijon mustard
2 tbs prepared horseradish
1 tbs lemon juice or white wine
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/2 lb lump crab meat (optional)

place 4 fillets on a foil lined pan. in a small bowl stir together cheese, yogurt, mustard, horseradish, lemon/wine, and pepper. stir in crab meat, if using. if not, just spoon mixture over fish. otherwise, spoon crab mixture evenly over fish.

broil on low for 10-15 minutes until fish is cooked through and flaky.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Strawberry Quinoa Yogurt Parfaits

i cannot get enough strawberries. i feel like i eat them everyday in june when they are in season. i love them mixed into my plain greek yogurt in the morning or just plain, right out of the fridge.

however, this morning i wanted something a bit more substantial but i wasn't in the mood for my breakfast standby - cereal. so i decided to whip up a yogurt parfait.

this isn't just any yogurt parfait though. take a closer look, there is quinoa in there! quinoa makes for a wonderful breakfast - similar to oatmeal, but packed with protein to keep you fuller longer. i recommend making the quinoa ahead of time and keeping it in the fridge to eat on weekday mornings.

just layer it with yogurt, fruit, and a little granola, and you have a quick, easy, healthy, filling breakfast in no time. kids will love this too!

Strawberry Quinoa Yogurt Parfaits
makes 2-3 parfaits

Sweet Creamy Quinoa:
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp agave nectar
pinch of salt

bring water, milk, salt, and quinoa to a boil over medium heat. reduce heat to low and let simmer 10-15 minutes until liquid has been absorbed and quinoa is tender (adding more liquid if needed). stir in agave and let cool. store leftovers in airtight container in fridge for up to 5 days.

Strawberry Yogurt:
1 cup plain 0% greek yogurt
1/3 cup strawberry puree

stir together yogurt and strawberry puree.

layer quinoa, strawberry yogurt, and sliced strawberries in as many layers as you like. top with more sliced strawberries and granola if desired for a nice crunch.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Weekly Nightcap - Strawberry Margaritas

mom and i had a little pampering yesterday. we both got pedicures and they were wonderful. there is nothing like smooth-as-a-babies-bottom feet. the color i picked is super summery and pink. it's OPI's strawberry margarita.

to prove the power of suggestion, i was able to think of nothing else after that than having a tall, cold strawberry margarita.

to prove my lack of willpower and my pure i-have-to-have-it-now cravings, i went home and made myself a strawberry margarita.

it tasted like summer. it probably helps that strawberry season is in full swing and i had some local strawberries, but the feeling of sipping my strawberry margarita with my feet up while looking at my strawberry margarita toes was quite satisfying.

enjoy your weekend!

Strawberry Margaritas
makes 2 drinks

4 oz strawberry puree
4 oz tequila
3 oz triple sec

shake all ingredients together with ice and then strain into a tall, ice-filled glass. enjoy!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The It List - June 3, 2011


Happy Friday everyone!  The IT list is celebrating it's ONE YEAR anniversary this week!  It has been published 42 times in the past year... crazy, or what!?!? Also, the IT list will go on a brief summer hiatus for the next couple of weeks - but don't worry, it will return before you know it!  
In the meantime, enjoy these fabulous links!

  • alisha of alisha & brandon is challenging herself to mix and match 30 pieces of clothing for the next 30 days (also known as the 30/30 Challenge) - she's off to a great start! (find alisha on twitter!)
  • infashuation is giving away a super fun multi-colored straw bag.  Go enter now... go on! (find infashuation on twitter!)
  • thought & musing is looking sweet in peach and polka dots - what a fun combo!
  • a lucky fifth is dreaming in black and white - check out the fun inspiration she has compiled here!
  • the stylish housewife is rocking a fun striped dress paired with leopard shoes - in my book a perfect match! (find the stylish housewife on twitter!)
  • rose a la mode is giving away an amazing pair of KM2 Shoes valued at over $300 - pop on over and enter! (find rose a la mode on twitter!)
  • sweetie pie style is crushing on a boho style handbag for summer - check out her picks, all under $100! (find sweetie pie style on twitter!)
  • good tots reviews what recipes they have been loving in her household lately... including a super yummy cocktail recipe for the adults!
  • good clean fun has the perfect summer burger for you... it's stuffed with carmelized onions. So yum! (find good clean fun on twitter!)
  • lady M is an 'opposite blogger' - she's blogging from the Souther Hemisphere where the weather is changing there, but in a different direction! (find lady M on twitter!)
  • the capital barbie is featuring some fun silk shifts for summer including this unique one from Forever 21 that is less than $35! (find the capital barbie on twitter!)
  • one hundred inspirations features Ashley Tisdale's fresh summer outfit for only about $100!
  • good life for less turns a maxi skirt into a dress for a simple summer look. (find good life for less on twitter!)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sweet Mustard Salmon

i have a confession. i get bored easily. there. i said it.

i tried p90x (the popular 90 day dvd workout) and was ridiculously bored by week 4. yes, there are a bunch of dvd's but by the time i had seen each one at least twice, i was bored to tears. i can't watch movies over and over again. hello, if i've already seen it, i know what happens. of course there are a couple of exceptions (how the grinch stole christmas, just friends, shawshank redemption) but for the most part, i will fall asleep if i have already seen the movie once.

perhaps my sensitivity to boredom is why i am always trying new recipes. as a personal chef, one of the questions i get asked most often is "what is your favorite thing to cook?" i have a hard time answering it because truth be told, i don't like the cook the same things over and over. there are recipes i love and will never tire of (crab cakes anyone?) but for the most part, i am always wanting to try something new. so, perhaps a good answer to that question is "a new recipe."

i am nuts about salmon. i love it so much i want to eat it all the time. pair my love of salmon with my tendency towards boredom and you will understand my need to constantly try new salmon recipes.  i try to make it once and week because it's good and good for you but am always looking for new ways to prepare it so i don't get bored to death with it. tonight, i found a winner. i will most definitely make this again. yes, this recipe will be my new favorite. that is until i try a new recipe, fall in love, and deem it my new favorite, but you get the idea.

i found the original recipe at epicurious.com. i tend to sear or grill my salmon but baking it for just 10 minutes at 350 degrees F followed by a quick broil produced perfectly moist, tender, just-starting-to-flake fish. it was cooked to perfection. the flavor from the white wine and old bay was complimented by the brown sugar and mustard glaze and the combination made salmon practically melt in my mouth. it really tasted amazing. pairing it with a big green salad with lemon mustard vinaigrette made for a perfect summer meal.

Sweet Mustard Salmon
makes 2 servings
adapted from bon appetit

1 lb wild salmon
3/4 cup white wine
2 tbs unsalted butter
3/4 tsp old bay
pinch kosher salt
1 grind of pepper
3 tbs dijon mustard
1 1/2 tbs packed brown sugar

preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

in a small saucepan, bring wine, butter, old bay, salt and pepper to a boil over medium heat. reduce to medium low and let simmer 4 minutes.

place 2 salmon filets on foil lined baking sheet. pour wine mixture over salmon and bake for 10 minutes.

mix together mustard and brown sugar. remove salmon from oven and spoon mustard mixture over salmon. broil on high for 1-2 minutes until mustard mixture starts to bubble. let cool slightly and serve.

i have known this man for 8 1/2 years. he is my best friend and favorite person on the planet. i am never bored when i'm with him. 7 years of marriage and i'm not tired of him yet :) i have a good feeling i never will be. i'm crazy about you babe!

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