Grilled Flank Steak with Veggies

I got the inspiration for this dinner from one of my favorite magazines Real Simple.

Of course I switched out a few things and changed up a few of the cooking methods to fit what I already had in my kitchen better… but that’s what it’s all about! Getting inspiration for easy, healthy meals and making them your own!


For 6 servings:

You’ll need:
2 lbs Flank Steak (it’s a really thin cut)
1/4 soy sauce
Juice of half a fresh lemon
1/2 a large white onion (optional)
Salt and Pepper

For the veggies:
2 lbs red potatoes
1 lb fresh green beans

Fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon cumin
1 serrano pepper
Olive Oil


Start by giving each side of the flank steak a good sprinkle of kosher salt and fresh black pepper.


Now add the soy sauce. Be sure each piece of flank steak is well covered in the soy sauce.


Squeeze in the juice of half a fresh lemon. Not only does the lemon add flavor but the acid helps break down the meat fibers keeping the flank steak tender as it has a tendency to become tough when cooking. Cover and let marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

I sliced half a large white onion and marinated with soy sauce. I grilled the onion and used as a garnish for the flank steak.


Meanwhile, move onto the veggies! Here is my sink full of washed veggies! I served elotes with this meal as a side.


First lets start with the fresh green beans.


Cut off the ends or the little pieces of the stem that are left.


Then chop the green beans into bite sized pieces. For some of the green beans this meant dicing them into thirds and the smaller beans only needed to be cut in half.


All finished there!


Next, slice a serrano pepper into very thin slivers.


Now cut the new potatoes, also called red potatoes, into bite sized pieces.


Combine all the veggies into a large skillet. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a teaspoon of cumin. Stir until everything is evenly coated. Sautee on medium heat until potatoes are tender. Stir frequently. This will take about 30 minutes. If you try and rush this by turning up the heat there is a good chance you will burn the potatoes… I know from experience!

Once the veggies are done sauteeing and the potatoes are tender, add in about a 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro and mix together. Set aside until ready to serve.


Back to the flank steak that was marinating…


Grill the flank steak on medium heat for about 5-6 minutes on each side. This can really differ on each grill and even on a grill depending on what areas of the grill are hotter. So keep an eye on everything.

While the flank was laying out flat, I poured some of the marinade over it to keep things juicy!


After about 5 minutes, flip it over. Look at those grill marks! Grill Master Natalia!

Pour any remaining marinade juices over this side too!

After another 5 minutes, it’s all done!


Now slice the flank steak into one inch wide strips. I stacked all the flank steak pieces on top of each other and sliced all together. This will give the pieces a more uniform presentation.


All sliced up and ready to be plated with the veggies!


Ta-da!


The cumin and serrano pepper really give the veggies a great flavor with a little kick!


Enjoy!

Fish in a Bag

This is one of my favorite ways to bake fish that I forgot about! It’s so easy and requires no, zero, zilch, nada cooking oil. That makes this dish super healthy and clean up is a breeze.

Essentially, take your favorite filet of fish, I used salmon for this one. Place the fish on parchment paper and add your favorite veggies and seasonings, wrap it up, making a tent almost and bake. That’s it!

Here’s how:


Place the fish filet, I used salmon, onto a large sheet of parchment paper. Add your favorite veggies and seasoning. I kept it simple with some diced onions and a little jalapeño got in there too! I sprinkled in a little salt and pepper and lime wedges.


Wrap it up, creasing and tightly folding the sides. I tried to

make it a little tent in the middle so the parchment was not actually touching the fish on top. The tent like shape helps steam the fish with its own juices and those from the veggies. Place the parchment tent on a baking sheet.

Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes if it’s a small filet, 1lb or less. For larger filets, start with 15 minutes and go from there. It also depends on how cooked you like your fish. I prefer mine less done so I shorten the baking time.


10 minutes later… Perfection!


I served my salmon-in-a-bag with these zucchini noodles.


So easy! Enjoy!

Zucchini Pasta with Creamy Avocado Cilantro

Seems like every Monday morning I am recovering from the weekend. Literally. I do great all week, going to be early, eating well, working out and then Friday through Sunday I blow it. Stay up late, sleep in, eat and drink too much and never sweat it out. NPR recently did a report on Social Jet Lag, basically every weekend I get up so early Friday morning and stay up so late that it’s the equivalent of changing two time zones. Crazy that I do this to myself every week! Does anyone else feel this way ?

In an effort to eat clean and get my week together, I made zucchini noodles. They are gluten-free but still give me the same satisfaction as regular pasta noodles and the creamy avocado is quite filling. Summer is a great time for zucchini and avocado, so this dish is perfect! Seasonal, healthy and something everyone can enjoy! It seems more and more of my friends are going g-free for a multitude of reasons, so I am trying to incorporate more recipes that fit their diets. Plus, the zucchini noodles are vegan and dairy free too! I did serve the zucchini noodles with salmon at the end as you’ll see but the noodles and pasta themselves are vegan.


You’ll need:
1 large zucchini (makes about 2 servings)
1 medium avocado
3 cloves of garlic
Fresh jalapeño for heat if you like
Cilantro
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt

Start by washing the zucchini.


Then cut off the ends. Stand the zucchini on one end and use a vegetable peeler to slice the zucchini into long, thin strips.


All sliced up! Discard the middle part with all the seeds. That part will fall apart in the water anyways.


Put the zucchini strips into a pot of boiling water, just like regular wheat pasta noodles. However, the zucchini will cook much fast. Only requiring about 2 to 3 minutes of boiling time.


Post boiling the noodles should have about the same texture as a regular noodle after boiling.


Drain the zucchini noodles like normal.


For the creamy avocado cilantro sauce, wash and chop up cilantro. About 1/4 a bushel. Slice an entire medium sized avocado and dice up half a jalapeno for heat if you like. Do a rough chop of 3 cloves of garlic.


Put all of that into a food processor with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 a tablespoon of kosher salt.


Blend until smooth. Add a tablespoon of water at time if necessary to blend.


Add the sauce to the zucchini noodles and mix together.


Now the zucchini noodles are ready to serve! I served my zucchini noodles with this salmon that I baked in parchment paper!


Enjoy!

Pulled Pork Tacos

I have been wanting to make slow-cooker pulled pork tacos for a while now. They seemed so easy and the pictures looked delicious! The problem I ran into was my cut of pork was only about 2 1/2lbs not the 6-14lbs I was seeing all the cooking directions for. After a call to my Granny, I got it all straightened out. Basically, in a slow-cooker everything cooks for about 8hrs on low. It’s almost fool-proof, so let’s get started!


You’ll need:
Pork Butt or Shoulder (I used half a pork butt about 2 1/2lbs since I wasn’t cooking for an army or anything)
Pineapple
White Onion Slices
Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and Pepper

I marinated my pork overnight. I started by drizzling the pork with worcestershire sauce.


Add some salt.


Then some pepper. Make sure you get both sides with the worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.


Then cover both sides with pineapple and onion slices. I used a large tupperwear container and marinated it overnight in the fridge.


The next day put the pork, onions and pineapple into a crock pot. Make sure there is some pineapple and onion slices underneath the pork as well as on top.

Cover and turn onto low. Let that cook for about 8hrs.


Oh! Someone smelled the meat!


I decided to make some garnish or salsa to go with these tacos. I started off with some cilantro.


A little diced jalapeño.


I combined the cilantro and jalapeño with some diced pineapple and lime juice.


Add a dash of cumin and mix all together.


Super fresh and delicious pineapple and cilantro salsa.


Lomax came over early so she got put on avocado slicing duty. She’s actually very talented at this! May have to have her do a guest post on avocado slicing because whenever I try to slice avocados, I wind up with avocado mush.


I heated up some corn tortillas on the stove.

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I prefer corn tortillas with pork.


Back to the slow cooker… 8hrs later you’ll have a deliciously tender piece of meat.


It should literally pull apart with a fork.


Start building the tacos.


Garnish with pineapple cilantro salsa, avocado and crumbled cotija cheese.


Delicioso!

What are your favorite kind of tacos?


Eat up and enjoy!

Lemon Pesto Pasta

Happy Friday Everyone!

Has this not been the longest short week ever? Seriously though. Good thing I went to an awesome show last night! I saw the Lumineers and they are phenomenal. Love ’em, just love ’em.

So, I’ve decided to challenge myself this month. I am going to post everyday (including weekends!) this month. Therefore, if you have any suggestions, tips, recipes or restaurants you’ve been dying to try, please send them my way! Thanks to all of you lovely people, I had a spike in traffic this month and its been the best month on record!! Thanks y’all!! To return all that love I want to give y’all more of what ya want! So tell me your thoughts and dreams and let’s do this.

Summer is definitely setting in here

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in Austin, TX. Temps are creeping up to almost 100 degrees! Which makes me want lemons. So today I give you lemon pesto pasta. Because you all know how much I love pesto. And pasta. And of course, I put a poached egg on top. Because I love those too. I decided to switch up my normal pesto and go lemon-y. And cheesy.


You’ll need:
Whole Wheat Angel Hair Pasta (thats my fav)
Frozen Peas
Red Bell Pepper
1 Lemon
Fresh Mint
Handful of Almonds
Romano Cheese
Green Onion
Crushed Red Pepper
Olive Oil

3 cloves of garlic
Salt and Pepper
Poached egg if you’re into those…


Do a rough chop of the lemon, green onions, romano cheese and garlic…


Throw that all into a food processor. With the almonds,crushed red pepper flakes, a little kosher salt and few tablespoons of olive oil. Be sure to wash the lemon because I put mine in rind and all.


Blend that all until smooth. Well smooth-ish. This pesto will be a little chunkier than others.


Get that pasta boiling… and then move onto the red bell pepper. Cut out the white part on the inside.


Chop up the red bell pepper and mince a few leaves of mint. Just a touch… not too much.


Once the angel hair is al dente, throw the frozen peas in the hot pasta water and they will cook on their own in about 3 minutes.


Drain the water from the pasta and peas. Add the red bell pepper, mint and lemon pesto and mix all together.


Dont forget the poached eggs!


Plate the lemon pesto pasta and slide the poached egg on top. Gorgeous colors if I do say so myself!


Just love this.


Ready to crack that yolk? Wait for it… Wait for it…


Aww yeah!


Eat up and enjoy!

The 5 Best Things I’ve Ever Made

Its been about 9 months since I started this blog. So I figured it was time for a “Best Thing I Ever Made” inspired post. There’s been quite a few meals made during this time so I wanted to share some of my favorites. Other things I could have done in 9 months:

Hatched a human

Finished 2 semesters of college

Made a trip around the world on a boat

But instead I decided to write about my culinary

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adventures. Glad you all decided to come along on this adventure. My shameless self-plug: I am raising money for the Alzheimer’s association and am waaayy behind on my goal of $500… any donation is greatly appreciated! So go here and donate $5, $10, $15 if you can. A $25 donation gets you a ticket to the game on June 8th and entrance to the after party. Thanks for your support!

Now here are The 5 Best Things I’ve Ever Made:

5. Sourdough Stack

This breakfast came to be early on in my blog and you can see the progress I’ve made… especially the photography. Despite the photography, this dish was one of the more creative things I’ve made. I really like this one.

4. Snickerdoodle Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting
The name explains why this is one of the best things I’ve ever made.

3. Buffalo Chicken Sliders with Ranch Coleslaw

I mean… seriously. These were AH-MAZ-ING! Sooooo deliciously spicy and good and perfect for any occasion.

2. Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread

Simply delicious. Not to mention this recipe is from one of my favorite, favorite bloggers, Joy the Baker.

1. Seared Tuna with Mango Salsa

Definitely the winner. Absolutely the Best Thing I’ve Ever Made. This dish was so fresh and the pineapple mango salsa could be used on so many other things. Searing tuna is not nearly as hard as it seems and is something I want to incorporate more often in my cooking rotation.

What is the Best Thing You’ve Ever Made?

Vegetable Lasagna Rollatini

Mmmmm pasta…. and pesto. Two things I have been craving lately. I know, weird, right? It’s practically summer and I should be thinking about light and fresh vegetables but whatever. The heart, errr I mean stomach, wants what it wants.

I did though incorporate a lot of vegetables into this lasagna. Mainly because my guys friends that came over are total health nuts. No, but really, they are. I thought about making this dish vegan for a hot second but just couldn’t bring myself to make lasagna without cheese. I’m just not there yet. But vegans and vegetarians alike feel free to post your substitutions, I’m always looking for something different!

I did add some super healthy and of course spicy kale pesto! Really added some flavor to this dish.

 


You’ll need:
10 Lasagna Noodles
1/2 of a small Eggplant
1 cup of diced Cremini or Baby Portobello Mushrooms (they are the same thing!)
1/2 a large White onion
1 large can of Tomato Sauce
1/2 a bushel of Kale
6 cloves Garlic
6 tablespoons of Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
1 small Lemon
1/2 a Jalapeno
Couple splashes of week-old red wine
1 cup of Ricotta cheese
Mozzarella cheese
Romano or Parmesan cheese to top


First, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Then boil the lasagna noodles. Even if you buy no boil noodles, still need to boil them so they are soft enough to roll.


Only need to boil the noodles for 3-4 minutes. Drain the water and separate the noodles. If you don’t they will stick together and tear! Set these aside.


Now onto the kale pesto! I made this just like I made all my other pestos, except I used kale. Wash and remove the stalks from the kale. This post shows you how to remove the stalks of the kale.


In a food processor, combine chopped kale, garlic, lemon juice, jalapeno, olive oil and kosher salt until fully incorporated and smooth. Set aside.


Dice up the onion.


Wash and dice up the cremini mushrooms.


Now onto the eggplant!


Slice the eggplant then proceed to dice it up.


Combine the onion, mushrooms and eggplant into a large skillet. Drizzle with olive oil and begin to saute.


Add 2-3 tablespoons of week old red wine or red wine vinegar. Stir that until absorbed.


After about 10 minutes, add a cup of ricotta. Turn off the heat and mix that up!


Remember those noodles? Now its time for the fun part!


Spoon the vegetables and ricotta over the noodles.


Top a little kale pesto over that. Not too much! It gets spicy with that jalapeno.


Roll that up!


Ta Da! Haha get it? It’s lasagna but all rolled up? Lasagna Rollatini!


Place the lasagna rolls into a baking pan sprayed with non-stick spray.


Smother those with tomato sauce.


Top with some mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees or until cheese is nice and bubbly!


So delish!


Cheesy… yum! Cranch better watch out, you’ve got hand model competition!


Your guests will be shocking surprised by how delicious their plates look!


I served this vegetable lasagna rollatini with roasted asparagus.


Dig in and enjoy!

What are your favorite lasagna substitutions?

Sweet and Spicy Glazed Salmon

This recipe came to me straight from the one and only Peter Pevoto via his mama. God bless that woman.

 

You’ll need:

3 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
4 teaspoons Chinese-style hot mustard
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
 


4 (6 ounce) salmon filets
cooking spray
salt, pepper
 
Preheat oven to 425.

 

Add the soy sauce.

 

And the spicy Chinese Mustard. I found this in the Asian food section at HEB.

 

Add the rice vinegar.

 


Combine glaze ingredients in a saucepan, bring to boil. Remove from heat.

 

Place fish on a foil-lined pan coated with cooking spray. Season fish with salt and pepper. Bake at 425 for ~12 minutes.

 

Remove from oven.  Preheat broiler.

 

Spoon glaze mixture evenly over salmon.

 

Broil ~3minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.


Smelled delicious!


Ready to eat!


Add wasabi for a spicy kick! I served this with sautéed mustard greens and brown sugar pecan risotto!

Chicken Ricotta Croquettes

These little babes or uh I mean croquettes, can easily be paired with a host of other dishes or sides, even for breakfast!

One of my thoughts was to pair these with a poached egg and some hollandaise sauce… somebody out there better try that and let me know how it is!


You’ll need:
One large chicken breast
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/2 a white onion
Thyme and Parsley
Salt
Panko bread crumbs
Ricotta
Vegetable Oil


First, start by boiling the chicken breast. Place the raw chicken breast into a pot of boiling water. Once you place the chicken in, the bubbles made subside for a minute or so but they will come back.


Add in a few shakes of Thyme and Parsley.


Add the spices, chopped onion and garlic to the boiling pot. Cover this, reduce to medium heat and let boil for 25 minutes.


After 25 minutes… looks about done.


Strain the water from the pot but save the onion and garlic to add back in later for extra flavor.


Shred the chicken. I did this with two forks. The chicken should be pretty tender making this super easy.


Mimi showed up. She’s got quite the nose for meat!


Shredded chicken. Be sure to pull the chicken into fine strands. Dont want any big chunks of meat in these croquettes.


I added about half of the garlic and onions into a mixing bowl with the shredded chicken.


Add about a cup of ricotta into the mixing bowl with the chicken and onions.


Mix that all up.


Pour some Panko bread crumbs onto a plate.


Pat the chicken ricotta into little cakes. Be sure not to make them too thick or too thin. Probably about 1/2in thick.


Now cover the croquettes in Panko bread crumbs.


They are ready for the pan!


Pour vegetable oil into the pan. Be sure the entire bottom of the pan is covered evenly with about a 1/4in of oil. Heat the oil on medium-high heat before putting the croquettes into the pan. You will know when its ready because the oil will start to smell, kind of like something fried. You can test to see if its ready by placing a small ball of croquet in the pan. If it immediately starts to sizzle then you’re ready!


Croquettes into the pan!


Flip the croquettes over once the under side is browned. This will probably take 2-3 minutes at least. But each stove is different so keep an eye on them.


I served my chicken ricotta croquettes with sautéed peas and mushrooms.


Delish. Enjoy!

Tequila Lime Chicken

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, the unofficial kick-off to summer here in Austin, fire up the grill for some Tequila marinated chicken. I mean why not? Plus, you probably already have most of the ingredients!


You’ll need:
1 large chicken breast
Tequila (I used tequila blanca but gold tequila will work too)
1 lime
Olive oil
Cayenne Pepper
Salt and Pepper


Start off by pouring about a tablespoon of olive oil over each side of the chicken breast. For all the marinade ingredients, be sure to get them on each side of the chicken.


Sprinkle a little kosher salt on.


Add cayenne pepper on each side.


Now for the fun part! Add about 2-3oz of tequila over each side of the chicken.


Squeeze the juice of half a lime on each side. Crack some fresh pepper over top and the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 30min up to 2 hours.


After the chicken is finished marinating, fire up the grill!


I poured the extra marinade over top of the chicken on the grill. FYI this will cause the fire to flame up so be

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careful!


Grill on each side of the chicken to at least 10 minutes on medium flame. Depending on the size and thickness of your chicken breast this could take longer.


My chicken got a little charred on the outside but it gave it a great fire grilled taste!


I served this chicken up with Elotes, an awesome Mexican street corn.


Happy Cinco de Mayo, y’all!

Buffalo Chicken Sliders with Ranch Coleslaw

I am not really sure what gave me the idea to make these hearty little bites but once the thought was in my head, it was all I could think about.

I have never made anything with buffalo sauce before and I wouldn’t exactly call this the healthiest thing I’ve ever made but hey, sometimes I wanna grub, just like you. I was surprised at how fast these baked and with a few quick tips I came up with, you can whip these babies up in less than an hour start to finish!

First, lets start with the Ranch coleslaw.

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You’ll need:

4oz of buttermilk
4oz of mayo (can sub sour cream or greek yogurt)
1/2 a packet of Hidden Valley Original Ranch mix
1/2 cup of chopped carrots
1/2 cup of chopped red cabbage


In a jar, combine 4oz of buttermilk and 4oz of mayo.


Add in about half a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix.


Whisk that together and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to chill. We will come back to the carrots and cabbage later.


For the Buffalo Chicken Sliders, you’ll need (this makes 4 sliders):

4 King’s Hawaiian Rolls

1 large Chicken breast
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 cup of panko bread crumbs
1 egg
1/2 cup of Frank’s Hot Wing sauce
1/4 cup of buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


In a bowl combine 1 egg and the buttermilk. Whisk that together.


After whisking that together, add about a tablespoon or so Frank’s Hot wing sauce.


Whisk that together again and set aside.


In a separate mixing bowl, combine equal parts Panko breadcrumbs and flour. Stir that together well and set aside.


I attempted to cut a large chicken breast into four somewhat equal parts that resembled the shape of a Hawaiian King Role. They’re not perfect but they will do just fine! Be sure to take note of which pieces are thicker than others as they will require more time baking. Cut away any extra fat or sinewy parts.


Now, dip the chicken breast piece into the egg, buttermilk and hot sauce bowl. Be sure to completely cover the chicken with sauce, flipping it over a few times if needed.


Next, roll the chicken in the flour, breadcrumb mixture.


Completely cover the chicken in the flour and panko breadcrumbs.


Now here’s the good part y’all… I double breaded these babies! That’s right, I had extra egg and dry mixtures and thought, why not? This part starts to get a little messy but stick with it because the extra crispy crust is totally worth it in the end. Re-dip the breaded chicken into the egg, hot sauce mixture.


Then re-roll the chicken in the flour and bread crumb mixture.


Place the double-breaded chicken pieces into a baking pan sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes or until completely cooked.


While the chicken is baking, go back to the cloeslaw and prepare the veggies. Peel a carrot.


An easy substitution would be to buy matchstick carrots but I wanted to see for myself how to cut a carrot into thin little pieces. You will need a sharp knife for this. I began by slicing the carrot into thirds and then subsequently dicing those in half long ways and then cutting them into thin pieces.


Now onto the cabbage! Wash it first.


First, cut the knob off.


Then cut the cabbage into thin slices. So pretty!


Cut the cabbage into thin pieces. I used about 1/2 a cup of carrots and 1/2 a cup of cabbage, so equal parts if you decide to make more or less.


Put the cabbage and carrots into a mixing bowl and add about 2 tablespoons of chilled ranch dressing.


Mix that all together.


The chicken should be about done by now. Toss the chicken cuts with more Frank’s hot wing sauce. I used hot buffalo sauce but unless you like to sweat and sniffle while you eat, I suggest using the regular buffalo sauce. This one got quite hot! Or you could mix hot and regular, up to you.


I added the sauce right into the baking pan because I did not want to worry with more dishes and bowls.


Use tongs and toss the chicken until completely covered with hot wing sauce.


Place the buffalo chicken cuts onto King’s Hawaiian rolls. The sweet, soft bread is a great compliment to the spicy, crispy chicken.


Top with the cool ranch coleslaw.


Ready to serve! These are great as an appetizer for sharing or even as a meal!


Enjoy!

Creamy Vegetarian Pasta

Mmmmm its the middle of Spring, or well almost Summer, here in Austin but I’ve been craving pasta. Especially creamy delicious hearty pasta.

 Plus, I had a ton of cheese leftover from the really big pizza party last week that needed to get eaten. This creamy veggie pasta is definitely inspired by traditional Pasta Carbonara except I did not use heavy cream or bacon… gasp.  Peas and mushrooms and ricotta… mmmm.


You’ll need:
Angel hair pasta
1 cup ricotta
1/2 cup of grated romano cheese
3 eggs
1/2 bushel of green onions
1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms
3 cloves of garlic
3/4 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste


Grate the romano cheese and set aside.


In a medium-sized pot, bring salted water to a boil and add the angel hair pasta. This should cook more quickly than other types of noodles.


Mince up the garlic.


Dice up the mushrooms and green onions and set aside.


Add about a cup of ricotta cheese to a mixing bowl.


Add 3 eggs to the ricotta.


 Whisk that all together until mostly smooth. There may be a few small curds (lumps) but that’s ok.


All mixed up!


Add a few twists of fresh cracked black pepper.


Add a few shakes of red pepper flakes if you like.


Mix that all up and set aside.


Remember these guys? Add the mushrooms and green onions to a skillet with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Saute these for 2-3 minutes.


After the mushrooms and onions begin to soften, add about 3/4 cup of frozen peas. Stir that up.


Now stir in the minced garlic.


Saute all of this together for another 2-3 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft and the peas are hot but not too mushy.


 Now its time to drain your angel hair pasta. Save a little pasta water in case the sauce is too thick. I wound up not using this but it is good to have just in case.


After draining the angel hair, combine the pasta with the veggies in the pot.


Now time to add the creamy ricotta sauce!


Fold the sauce into the pasta quickly but gently. Be sure to turn the heat off while doing this. The eggs in the sauce can begin to cook. The sauce may curd a little, making some tiny lumps, that is ok but we do not want the sauce to become too lumpy.


Don’t forget to add the grated romano cheese! Stir the romano in, it should melt quickly. Now you are ready to serve!


Little bowl of love.


Of course I added a little extra romano, red pepper flakes and black pepper to my bowl!


Enjoy!


My attempt at using Photoshop to edit my photos… what do y’all think?

Radish Mango and Avocado Salad

Radishes are in season! Or so I think… they looked nice and colorful in the store at least. This week I have been experimenting with root vegetables, trying to switch it up and try out some new things. The salad part is not new but the flavor combination is! I love salads for dinner, if I have not told you before. They are fresh and flavorful and light, which is key as I prep for bikini season.

Ok, lets jump into this Radish Mango and Avocado Salad!

For 1 serving, you’ll need:

1 cup Baby greens

1/2 of a mango

1/2 of an avocado

1/4 juice of a lemon

3 small radishes

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon olive oil

pinch of kosher salt

dash of balsamic vinegar

Black pepper

 

First, wash the radishes. Root veggies can be quite dirty.

 

Slice the tops and tails off of the radish.

 

Thinly slice the radishes.

 

Next, wash the mango and slice it in half. Peel the skin off then dice the mango.

 

Now slice the avocado in half and dice it into same size pieces as the mango. Or as close as you can get.

 

All diced and sliced.

 

Lets move onto making the dressing. Put about 1 tablespoon per serving of Dijon mustard in a small bowl or dish.

 

Squeeze only about half the juice of half a lemon into the dish with the Dijon mustard. So a quarter of a whole lemon.

 

Add a tablespoon of olive oil.

 

Add a dash of balsamic vinegar and a pinch of kosher salt.

 

Add some black pepper and whisk all together.

 

If you do not have one of these tiny whiskers from Pampered Chef, get one. It comes in so handy! But if you really do not have one, a fork will work to whisk.

 

To build the salad, place about a cup of baby greens on a plate and add the sliced radishes.

 

Add the diced mango and avocado on top.

Drizzle the lemon Dijon dressing over the top of the salad.

 

Add a little extra cracked pepper if you like and serve!

 

Perfect addition to any summer meal or its great all by itself. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Beet Risotto with Blue Cheese

And I’m back! Happy Monday everyone! Thanks for your patience while I got everything transferred over to this new format, I ran into a few more difficulties than I originally anticipated. For your wonderful patience I give you Beet Risotto with Blue Cheese… or Cotija cheese or any soft, salty cheese really.

Beets are super colorful and in season, so I thought, why not? Honestly, before I made this I could not remember the last time I actually ate a beet. But after my dear friend Haley telling me how her mama had made Beet Risotto over Easter, I was eager to try something with beets.

You’ll need:

1 bushel of fresh beets

half of a large white onion

4-5 cloves of garlic

1 can or about 14.5 ounces of chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you’re a vegetarian!)

1 cup of Arborio rice

1 tablespoon of olive oil

2-3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar or week old red wine

Blue Cheese or another soft, salty cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Wash the beets.

 

First, slice the stalk off the head of the beet.

 

Slice the outside, rough skin off.

 

Beets with all the skin peeled off.

 

After the beets are peeled, I cut them just like I would an onion. Here are the chopped beets and onion.

 

In a large pot, add the tablespoon of olive oil, beets and onions and cook on medium heat. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 5-6 minutes.

 

Stir the beets and onions every few minutes.

 

While the onions and beets are cooking, mince up the garlic.

 

All minced up.

 

Add the garlic to the pot with the beets and onions. Stir in and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic!

 

Add 2-3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar or in my case some week old red wine! You will know when red wine has gone bad by the smell. It will have distinctly pungent or vinegar fragrance. While this wine would not be good for drinking, it works wonderfully in place of red wine vinegar in this dish!

Add the cup of Arborio rice. Stir in.

 

Stir the Arborio rice into the beets and onions over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.

Now, add in the chicken broth a little bit at a time. Add a few ounces at a time, stirring until completely absorbed by the rice. Then add a few more ounces and repeat until all the chicken broth has been absorbed by the rice.

All combined.

 

After all the chicken broth is absorbed, cover the pot and let cook over low heat for about 10 minutes to let the rice soften. If your stove is pretty hot, you can turn the heat off to avoid burning.

 

After the arborio rice has soften, it will have a creamy consistency. Place the beet risotto into a bowl.

 

Immediately top with blue cheese or whatever cheese you choose.

 

Salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butterflied Shrimp Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

This spicy southwest salad was perfect for a healthy weeknight meal! Light and fresh was just what I needed.

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You’ll need:
1/2 lb of unpeeled shrimp
2 ears of fresh corn
Baby greens
1 can of black beans
1/2 a small Red onion
1 small tomato
1 small avocado
Cotija cheese
1 teaspoon cracked red pepper
1 lime

For the Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette:
1 large jalapeño
1/2 a bushel of cilantro
1 lime
4 cloves of garlic
4 tablespoons of olive oil
Cumin
Salt

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First, let’s peel the shrimp. Leave the tails on.

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Nice peeled shrimp. Now into deveining and butterflying!

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Take the knife and slice down the center line of the back of the shrimp.

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Remove the vein… Aka icky brown mushy stuff. Rinse with water if necessary.

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After removing the vein, slice a little farther into the shrimp along the same line as before. Do not slice all the way through.

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If you flip it over, it will look like this. See, kind of looks butterfly-ish.

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Butterflied shrimp!

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Now for a simple marinade, olive oil, salt, pepper, lime and cracked red pepper.

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Pour a tablespoon or so of olive oil over the shrimp. Then a little salt and some fresh pepper. Add about a teaspoon of red pepper. Squeeze the juice of 1 lime into the bowl.

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Stir all of that together, completely coating the shrimp. Cover and place the in fridge. Let marinate for about an hour.

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While the shrimp are marinating, get started on the other things. Rinse the black beans and let them dry out a little.

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Slice the head off the tomato.

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With a knife cut out the insides of the tomato.

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Dice the red onion and tomato into equally sized pieces and set aside.

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Now for the Vinaigrette… Cilantro, jalapeño and garlic.

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Do a rough chop of all of these.

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Place the roughly chopped jalapeño, garlic and cilantro into a blender. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil.

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Add a few shakes of cumin.

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Add the juice of 1 lime.

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Blend until smooth! Put some in a jar and save for later if you want!

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Now it’s time to head to the grill! Peel the corn and remove all the fibers. Go ahead and place the corn on the grill before the shrimp since they will take longer to cook.

The corn probably takes about 10 minutes on each side. The shrimp probably take about 5 minutes.

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Those look pretty tasty!

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Now, hold the corn stalk upright and slice the corn off.

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Do that for both!

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Now build the salad. In a large bowl, put the greens in and corn on top.

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Then the black beans and the rest of the good stuff… Tomato, onion, sliced avocado and of course shrimp!

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This is cotija cheese. You can find it in the Mexican cheese section.

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Break off a piece of the cheese and crumble it over the salad.

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Perfect meal! Top with the cilantro lime vinaigrette, toss and enjoy!

Crab Stuffed Avocados

This dish is inspired by an appetizer at one of my favorite restaurants, Uchi. Uchi’s Avo Bake is definitely a lot different than the one I made but that’s where the inspiration for this came from. Here goes!

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You’ll need:
8oz crab meat (I used claw meat because it is sweeter)
2 Hass Avocados
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
1/2 a lemon
Salt and pepper
Panko Bread Crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

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First, let’s halve these avocados. Slice down the center of the avocado until you hit the seed.

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Then drag the knife all the way around the avocado.

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Then twist the halves apart.

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Woohoo! Success!

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Use a spoon to scoop out the insides.

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Leave about a 1/4inch of avocado all the way around.

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Scoop all the insides into a large mixing bowl that we will use later.

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Repeat this step with all the halves.

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Add the Greek yogurt to the mixing bowl with the avocado.

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Add a couple pinches of kosher salt.

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Couple grinds of fresh black pepper.

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Mix all of that pretty well, until creamy. It’s ok if there are a few small lumps of avocado.

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Add a few shakes of cayenne pepper. Really just do this to suit your taste. I wound up using somewhere around 2 tablespoons. The cool avocado and Greek yogurt really mellow out the cayenne.

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Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon.

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Now, scoop in about 8oz of crab meat. After talking with the fishmonger at Central Market, I chose crab claw meat because it’s sweeter and more flavorful than regular crab meat. Often times people chose not to use claw meat simply because it isn’t all white like other crab meat.

And I learned that fishmonger is the proper term for the people working behind the seafood counter.

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Mix that all together and give it a little taste test to make sure you don’t want extra spices.

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Generously fill the avocado halves with the crab stuffing.

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I was pretty excited about these!

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Now time to bake these!

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Arrange the avocados on a baking sheet and grab your Panko bread crumbs.

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Cover generously with bread crumbs.

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Now they are ready for the oven!

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Bake these for about 20-25min.

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20 minutes later, these are pipping hot and ready to serve!

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I served my crab stuffed avocados over a bed of baby greens.

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These are fun to eat with chopsticks! Spoons work well also.

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Garnish with a few sprigs of cilantro. Wasbi and Siracha are great to add a little kick.

Enjoy!

Coconut Curry Lobster Bisque

I’ve been wanting to make lobster bisque even though lobster has never been my favorite ingredient. Interesting because I love seafood especially crustaceans. I originally had the idea for coconut lobster bisque because I frequently use coconut milk in my soups, but then I wanted to make it spicy and that’s where the red curry came in. After a few minor mishaps, that you’ll see below, the flavor came out pretty well.

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You’ll need:
About 3 lbs of lobster (this wound up being 2 tails for me)
1 can of coconut cream (I used coconut milk but cream would have been much better)
4 cups of chicken broth
4 cups of water
Peppercorns
1 stalk of lemongrass
2-3 sprigs of lemon thyme
1 small lime
1 small white onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of red curry paste
Few sprigs of fresh cilantro
Kosher salt

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Place lobsters in a large stock pot with 4 cups of water. Add some kosher salt and boil for 12 minutes.

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12 minutes later… Nice bright red lobster! Leave the water in the pot.

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Remove from pot and let cool.

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While the lobsters are boiling/cooling, get started chopping the herbs.

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I did a rough chop of the herbs and didn’t even cut the lemon thyme at all. We are going blend them later.

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After the lobster tails are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the shells over the pot. This way all the juices go into the pot adding lots of flavor.

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Start by twisting the tail off. Place the shells back in the pot and place the lobster meat in a bowl.

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Ta-da!

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Placing lobster meat in a bowl.

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Shells in the stock water.

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Careful! I sliced my thumb pretty bad on one of the shells!

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Lobster meat. Dice into bite sized pieces and set aside.

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Add herbs to stock water with shells.

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Add 4 cups of chicken broth.

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Give that a little stir.

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Bring the stock to a boil.

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Then cover and let simmer for 45 minutes.

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After 45 minutes, place a pot under your colander.

I forgot to put the colander over a pot and got distracted and accidentally poured out some of the

stock!!

Oh well, added a little extra water and chicken broth to make up for it.

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Strain the stock, removing the whole ingredients.

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Remove all of the lobster shells but leave the herbs.

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Pour stock and herbs into a blender. I did this in two batches. Blend until completely smooth.

It foamed up and spilled over so be sure to do this in multiple batches or you’ll wind up with a huge mess like me!

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It got a little foamy but that’s ok.

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Add coconut cream. I know I used milk but coconut cream will give this a more bisque-like thickness.

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Add one tablespoon of red curry paste. More if you like it super spicy!

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The juice of one small lime.

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Add in diced pieces of lobster meat. Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until everything is nice and hot.

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And there you have it! Lobster bisque! Garnish with cilantro.

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Enjoy!

Seared Tuna with Pineapple Mango Salsa

I’ve been dreaming about this dish for a while. Mmmm fresh fish with the perfect veggie and fruit salsa… So delicious. The soy in the salsa and sesame seeds on the tuna add a nice nutty flavor. Tuna is definitely one of the more expensive ingredients I’ve worked with so far but it’s well worth every bite…

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You’ll need:
1/2 lb tuna per person
Equal parts: pineapple, mango, red onion and red bell pepper
1 jalapeño
Cilantro
Avocado
Sesame seeds
Sesame seed or another high heat oil
Kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
Soy sauce
Fresh baby greens

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First things first, let’s get to chopping. Cut off the head of the pineapple.

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Whew!

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Slice the skin off all the sides.

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Purdy little naked pineapple.

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The girls came over early to get in on the action so I put them to work chopping the red bell pepper, jalapeño, red onion and finishing up the pineapple. The key here is to try and dice up the produce all about the same size and shape. That way your salsa will look more uniform. Must say the ladies were great at this! Thanks gals!

<img src=”http://natalieparamore.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/20120322-102954.jpg” alt=”20120322-102954.
jpg” class=”alignnone size-full” />

Slicing and dicing a mango can be tricky. First, peel the skin off with a vegetable peeler.

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Make vertical slits in the fruit. Careful it’s a slippery little guy!

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Then make horizontal slits. See those little uniform cubes? That’s what we are looking for.

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Then take your knife right down the side of the mango and… There you have it! Perfect little mango cubes! Repeat this on each side of the fruit.

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Oh it’s so pretty and the smell… Oh your mouth will be watering!

We included the jalapeño seeds for a little extra heat, up to you!

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Add a handful of chopped cilantro.

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Add about a tablespoon or so of soy sauce to the salsa and mix. Go easy on the soy at first, you can always add more later and a little bit goes a long way on these veggies and fruits.

Mix that up and set aside.

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I went straight for the good stuff! I went to Whole Foods and picked up 2lbs of fresh tuna. Paid a pretty penny for these but hey, sometimes ya gotta splurge, right?

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Oh hello lover!

We all took a little slice of it raw because it looked so appetizing.

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Coat with a little sesame seed oil.

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Add a little kosher salt to each side…

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And fresh black pepper on either side as well.

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Sesame seeds. I used only white but black and white are commonly used.

We debated on whether to coat the whole steak with sesame seeds or just the edges… Can go either way. We chose to only do the edges.

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Coating the edges with sesame seeds. They stick easily to the sides.

I have I admit I was so nervous to sear the tuna! I didn’t want to mess it up. After a little pep talk, it was remarkably easy!!

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Coat your pan with sesame seed oil. Use a cast iron skillet it you have one.

Make sure the skillet gets nice and hot before placing the tuna in.

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Oh so beautiful! Only need about 30 seconds to one minute max on each side.

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Flippy! Flippy!

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Cue drooling now.

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Thinly slice the tuna against the grain.

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Plate with some greens.

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Add a few slices of avocado. Thanks Lomax for making these slices so pretty!

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Now top all of this with that gorgeous salsa!

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Mmmmm

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So fresh! The perfect dinner!

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Sooo craving this right now!!

Enjoy y’all!

Chicken Stuffed Shells with Arugula and Pistachios

Wow! What a crazy week it has been in Austin with SXSW! I’m glad to be back in my house and ready to restore some normalcy to my schedule.

However, while couch surfing last week I did throw together this dish at the last minute for my kind friends who let me crash at their place. On my way home one evening, I decide to cook for everyone. Dinner for 8 in an hour and a half and I hadn’t even gone to the grocery store yet… Bad planning on my part but with a few extra hands around to help, we threw together this awesome dish!

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You’ll need:
32oz of Pasta shells
3 cups of Arugula
2 lbs Ground chicken
1 cup of shredded asiago cheese
16oz of Ricotta
8oz of Pistachios
1 jalapeño
3 cloves of garlic
1 white onion

Makes more than enough for 8…

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

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Start boiling those shells! They kind of take a while.

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Mince up the garlic.

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Mr. Sipes chopping up the onion!

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And the jalapeño…

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Throw that all in a skillet and start browning the chicken. Hold off on adding the garlic for a few minutes to keep it from burning. Add it in when about half the chicken is no longer pink.

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Once you’ve got the pasta and meat going, remove the pistachios from their shell.

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Then chop those up and set aside.

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Once the pasta is tender, strain it. May also want to rinse the shells with cool water so they aren’t too hot to handle.

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Make sure there isn’t any pink left in the chicken.

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In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken and ricotta.

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Add the arugula and mix well.

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Now enlist the help of a few friends to help stuff those shells!

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Ta-da!

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Arrange in a baking dish.

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Sprinkle shredded asiago cheese and chopped pistachios over top.

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Bake at 350 degrees for about 30minutes.

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Yum!

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I may have taken a few short cuts due to time constraints but I paired this dish with steamed broccoli.

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And everybody’s favorite… Pillsbury garlic twists!

Thanks for helping out friends!

Chicken Pecan Fettuccini

What I’ve learned while couch surfing: let your friends cook for you, they are pretty good at it! The lovely Miss Jessica Johnson had a few of us over for dinner last week and she made this awesome Chicken Pecan Fettuccini! Perfect mix of southern and Italian? Me thinks so!

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Boil those fettuccini noodles.

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Buttery sauce.

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Chicken and pecans!

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Combine those two for a delicious plate!

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Jessica balanced out the meal with this side of green bean and tomato salad. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar… Perfection!

More on becoming a couch potato surfer this week! Stay posted!

Prosciutto and Cantaloupe Arugula Salad with Spicy Mustard Balsamic Dressing

I guess the warm weather has me feeling fruity fresh! After a long and glorious weekend in Santa Barbara, CA I’ve been craving fresh produce and warm sunshine. I haven’t made a salad in a while and in a salute to bikini season, let’s get started on this delicious taste of spring!

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For the salad, you’ll need:
Arugula
Cantaloupe
Prosciutto
Red onion
Avocado
Walnuts

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For the Spicy Mustard Balsamic Dressing, you’ll need:
Sweet and Spicy Mustard (any mustard will do actually)
Olive oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Lemon

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Dice up about 2 tablespoons of red onion. I diced mine pretty finely.

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Slice the avocado in half.

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Then make slices vertically. Set aside for now.

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Slice the cantaloupe in half.

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Scrape out all the seeds and guts.

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Ahhh nice and clean!

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Now use a melon baller to scoop out melon balls. Use as many as you’d like, I used about 8-10.

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Now set all your fresh ingredients aside and lets get started on the dressing.

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Pour 2 tablespoons of sweet and spicy mustard into a bowl. Add the lemon juice. I didn’t use all the juice in half a lemon. Be sure all the seeds are removed.

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Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

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Add a dash of balsamic vinegar.
Whisk that all together.

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Now, let’s build the salad. Bed of arugula, yum!

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Sprinkle red onions over the arugula.

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Place the melon balls on the salad.

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So pretty!

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Scoop out the avocado slices and place on the salad.

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Sprinkle walnuts all over.

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Slice the prosciutto into strips.

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At this time, your dog will probably show up having smelled the prosciutto. Aww she’s so cute!

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And vicious when it comes to prosciutto haha! And wash your hands again here.

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I rolled up the prosciutto a little and place on the salad. You could get creative here.

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So fresh!

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Yum!

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Drizzle the dressing over the salad.

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Mouth is watering.

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Garnish with fresh cracked pepper if you like.

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Enjoy this super fresh and healthy, spring salad!

Coconut Cilantro Chutney

I made this chutney to go with Shrimp Tandoori. Chutney is a condiment typically used in South Asian dishes. It can be fresh or made made of preserves. It can be spicy or sweet and vary in texture, coarse or fine, wet or dry. This chutney is a little spicy and very fragrant. It leans to be more coarse and dry than other chutneys I’ve tried.

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You’ll need:
1 1/2 cups grated unsweetened coconut
1 lemon
1 tablespoon cumin
1 clove of garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh minced ginger
1 1/2 cups cilantro
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups water as needed to blend

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Wash and roughly chop the cilantro. Place into a food processor or blender. Peel and dice the ginger. Add diced ginger and garlic.

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Squeeze the fresh lemon juice in. Be sure to remove the seeds.

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Add in the grated coconut.

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Don’t forget the cumin!

Add the olive oil and few tablespoons of water. Begin to pulse in the food processor. As it mixes, add more water and scrape down sides until fully combined. This may take a few minutes to get the consistency you desire.

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As you mix, you’ll notice an awesome fragrance as the ingredients combine!

Big thanks to Caroline Lomax for helping out with one!

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Add this chutney to rice, shrimp or eat it with Naan.

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This one will definitely be making more regular appearances in my cooking rotation.

Enjoy!

Shrimp Tandoori

For my little Valentine’s Day Soirée, we went with an Asian theme. Shrimp Tandoori was the main dish and it was quite tasty if you ask me. It’s pretty easy too!

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You’ll need:
1 1/2lbs peeled and deveined shrimp
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
1 tablespoon fresh mixed garlic
1 cup Greek yogurt
Fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon garam masala
Kosher salt and black pepper

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Rinse the shrimp.

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Peel the garlic and ginger.

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All minced up.


In a large mixing bowl combine shrimp with ginger and garlic. Squeeze in fresh lime juice.

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Add in the Greek yogurt.

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Add a tablespoon of garam masala.

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Add the kosher salt.

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Fresh black pepper.

Mix all of the together and let it marinate in the fridge for an hour.

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Ok, now we are ready to cook!

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Put a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the shrimp and cook on medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until shrimp become a pink color.

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Yumm! I served my shrimp tandoori with yellow rice and cilantro-coconut chutney (recipe coming soon!).

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Delish!

Cilantro Pesto

I love love love pesto. And spicy food but that’s nothing new. So when I came across a recipe for cilantro pesto, I knew I had to try it.

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You’ll need:
Cilantro
Basil
Garlic
(all chopped)


Olive oil
Kosher salt
Parmesan
Your favorite noodle, I had macaroni so macaroni it was!

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In a food processor combine cilantro, basil, salt, garlic and olive oil.

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Add grated Parmesan and begin to blend.

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Add more olive oil as needed to continue blending.

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Get your noodles ready!

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Add the cilantro pesto!

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Mix it up and top with extra grated Parmesan!

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Yum! Yum! One of my new easy favorites!

Whole Wheat Grill Pizza

I heard about this recipe/idea for grilling pizza crust back in the summer. I never got around to trying it. Mainly due to my old fear of working with yeast but now that I’m over that and have my handy-dandy mixer, I was ready to make my first pizza crust!

I decided to go straight for the gold and make a whole wheat crust even though I’ve heard whole wheat can be harder to work with. It’s harder to work with mainly because whole wheat tends to be a drier crust but don’t worry, easy fix!

For grill pizza, you will obviously need a grill. You can also make this exact recipe, skip the grill and bake it in the oven. I also used a pizza stone after grilling for melting the cheeses and toppings. If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can put the pizza on a baking sheet or straight on the oven grate.

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For the whole wheat pizza crust, you’ll need:
1 package of active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

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First, we are going to proof the yeast. I’m not a big “you must use certain brands” kinda person but according to my Granny, it’s very important to use Fleischmann’s Yeast.

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That’s what yeast looks like. Little cardboard colored balls.

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Proofing yeast is kinda old school. Basically we are making sure the yeast is active. Back in the day it could become inactive so bakers would proof it first, to make sure it would rise before going through the whole recipe and then not having the bread rise. Nowadays, packaging and expiration dates are much more efficient so proofing is not as necessary. But whatevs, I wanted to see what all the hype was about it.

For any recipe, to proof, combine the yeast and the amount of lukewarm water in the recipe together.

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Add a pinch, literally a pinch, of sugar to the mix. This gives the yeast something to feed on and expedites the proofing.

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Mix all of that together and let sit for about 10 minutes.

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After about 10 minutes the yeast should start to foam and bubble a little. It will also have a very distinct yeast smell. This is what foaming looks like.

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Alright, now add the all-purpose flour to the water and proofed yeast mixture.

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Add in the whole wheat flour.

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Half a teaspoon of kosher salt.

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Add a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of olive oil.

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Now, I finally get to use my dough hook!! Woohoo! You can also mix this by hand… But it just might take a while. It’s possible, people have been doing it for millennia.

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Mixy Mixy!

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And there is that dough ball we are looking for!

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Now, move the dough ball to a well oiled bowl. I used olive oil and a large plastic mixing bowl.

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Take a mental note of the size of the dough ball.

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Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and place the bowl in a warm place and let rise for 2 hours or until the dough doubles in size. A warm place might be a really sunny window or on top of the preheating oven.

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Ok now for the fun part! While the dough is rising, set up your pizza topping bar. Go crazy, use whatever you want! Lots of cheese though!!

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I drained a can of diced tomatoes.

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Brown some sausage.

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Chop some fresh basil! And of course, mince some garlic…

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Add some arugula and fresh lemon, and your pizza topping bar is complete!

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2 hours later… Pizza dough! Technically at this point you are supposed to punch the dough down, knead it and place in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight. I didn’t have time for this and completely skipped this step. The dough still worked out… so, up to you. If you plan ahead enough to fully prep the dough, great. If not, it still works.

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When you are ready to use the dough, divide into 4 balls. This will make 4 personal pizzas. Or you could do 2 larger pizzas. I had four people and did a pizza topping bar so everyone could make their own.

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Place the dough on a floured surface. Now it’s time to work the dough. My dough was dry so I got my hands wet and then started in on the dough. This takes some time, patience my friend. The whole phrase “working the dough” took on new meaning for me at this point.

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After a few minutes, you’ll have a nice little pizza crust! If it

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tears, just patch it up and keep going. You want the dough to be fairly thin or you’ll wind up with more of a bread-y crust.

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Drizzle both sides of the crust with olive oil. Now it’s time for the grill!!

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Heat up the grill… About medium flame. Then carefully place the crust on the fire. It could tear easily at this point so use caution.

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It should start to puff up on the top. Do a little side check to make sure it’s not burning. It’ll take a minute or two on each side. When you can easily scoop the dough with the tongs, you’ll know it’s ready to flip. It should flip easily at this point.

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VICTORY!! Check out those grill marks!! I may have done a happy dance at this point… Dancing while cooking is always encouraged in my kitchen.

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After you finishing grilling the crusts, have everyone top their own pizza. Yummy! This is Luke’s pizza.

Place the topped pizza in the oven on the pizza stone for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

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And there you have it folks! A perfect personal pizza!

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This is my pizza, lots of arugula. I like a little salad on my pizza!

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I went halfsies on my pizza. On one half margherita and the other half pizza Bianca with sausage and lemon.

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The grill really gives the pizza that fire-flame taste and crispy crust just like a brick oven at the pizza place!

Enjoy!!

Beer Beef Stew with Horseradish Mashed Potatoes

I finally had a couple of my guy friends over for dinner. As my friend Jessica and I were discussing menu options we definitely decided beef was the way to go with these guys. Plus it was a rainy, chilly evening and what better way to warm up than some hot beef stew? Not to mention, this stew was beer beef stew, guy food for sure. Pour this beer beef stew over horseradish mashed potatoes and you’ve got quite the meal!

For the stew, You’ll need:
1.5 lbs stew meat
1 can of beer (don’t use light beer, c’mon y’all!)
4 large carrots
4 large stalks of celery
1 medium white onion
4oz of tomato paste
4 cloves of garlic
4 cubes of beef bouillon+4 cups of water
Kosher salt
Paprika
1 tablespoon butter
Worchestire Sauce

For the Horseradish Potatoes, you’ll need:
4lbs russet potatoes
Horseradish (extra hot!)
A little whole or buttermilk
Kosher salt

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First, wash the carrots then peel them.

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Then slice them up.

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Wash and slice celery. Then place in a bowl with carrots and set aside.

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Dice up the onion.

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Mince up the garlic.

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First, we are going to brown the meat. Melt the tablespoon of butter in a large pot that you will also use to cook the stew. Keeps all the flavors in once place.

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Throw in half the meat, brown the meat in 2 batches as to not crowd the pot. Just brown all sides, takes 2 or 3 minutes for each batch.

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Browning the meat.

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Remove browned beef pieces from the pot and cut them in half or bite size pieces. The inside should still be red. Set those aside.

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Now, time to sauté the onion. Place in the pot with all the butter and beef juice, stir around for about 2min.

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Once the onions start to turn translucent, add in the garlic and stir for about a minute. Careful, garlic burns easily!

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Now, add in the 4 beef bullion cubes along with 4 cups of water to the pot with the onions and garlic.

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Beer time!

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Pour in the whole can.

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Next, stir in 4oz of tomato paste.

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Add in one to two tablespoons of Worchestire Sauce.

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A few shakes of paprika.

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The beer will get really frothy as it heats up. This will give off a distinct yeast smell.

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Add in a pinch of salt.

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Dont forget to put the beef back in!

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Stir everything, cover and let simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours.

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While the stew is simmering, let’s get started on those potatoes.

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Wash and peel the potatoes, we want those creamy white mashers for this stew! Dice up the potatoes after peeling.

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Boil the potatoes.

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After the potatoes at tender, drain them. Holy steam!

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Put the potatoes back in the pot and add 2 tablespoons of buttermilk.

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Start mashing!

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Now add in the horseradish. This is to taste. I like it hot so I probably added 4-5 tablespoons!!

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Yum yum!

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Ok back to the stew. Add in the celery and carrots after about an hour and half. Simmer for another 30min or until vegetables reach desired tenderness. If the stew has cooked down too much,

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add in a cup of water or half can of beer. I added in an extra half can of beer!

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30 minutes later…

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Place potatoes in a bowl.

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Pour beer beef stew over the horseradish mashed potatoes.

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Now you’re ready to eat!

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Enjoy!

Lebanese Lamb Dolmas

My friend Hunter Hughes and I have been talking about making his family recipe for dolmas since, well, pretty much since I started this blog. So we finally got around to it last weekend. Hunter told me the story of how his mom’s family is from Beirut and the grape leaves used to make these dolmas are from a root they brought over from Beirut. Pretty cool story. Everytime I see Hunter I can’t help but think of the first line of Weezer’s El Scorcho song. Except replace Japanese with Lebanese. Seriously, that song runs through my head everytime I see him haha.

Dolmas are basically stuffed grape leaves. The grape leaves are stuffed with meat or vegetables, rice and spices. The ones Hunter’s family makes are stuffed with ground lamb meat and rice. He assures me, the ones we ate are traditional Lebanese ones, not to be confused with Greek ones which are often vegetarian.

Let’s begin.

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You’ll need:
Grape leaves (can get them in a jar, somewhere near olives in the grocery store)
Ground leg of lamb
Lemon
Rice

These ones we made were handmade by Hunter’s grandma and frozen. So, lucky me, got to try the really authentic ones.

If you were making these, you would take the uncooked rice and ground lamb meat and wrap it tightly in the grape leaves. Making little bite size pieces.

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Next, place the dolmas in a large pot and cover with water. Make sure that the dolmas can lay flat and that you can fit a salad plate over the dolmas.

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See how the plate fits inside the large pot. This holds the dolmas together while cooking so the leaves don’t unravel.

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Then squeeze some lemons over and place them around the edges. Simmer these for about 35minutes.

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The dolmas will come out looking all steamy and fresh!

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I served these dolmas with Sweet Potato Hummus , whole wheat cous cous and prosciutto wrapped mozzarella.

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For prosciutto wrapped mozzarella, slice fresh mozzarella and wrap with prosciutto. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with kosher salt. Easy and delicious!

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There’s the inside.

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And just in case you ladies were wondering this half-Lebanese man resides in Austin, TX but loves that Alabama Roll Tide. You can find him on the mean streets of West 6th or combing the Capitol working his slick skills.

Thanks for the dolmas Hunter!

Chicken Soup

This soup is one of my favs. It’s something between traditional chicken noodle soup and chicken tortilla soup. But this soup doesn’t have any noodles or tortilla strips, just veggies and chicken. It’s pretty flavor packed and is great to make and share or store and keep for a few days.

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You’ll need:
4 cups of chicken broth
1lb of chicken ( I picked up a rotisserie)
Carrots
Onion
Celery
Avocado
Cilantro
Garlic

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Chop up about a cup of celery and onion.

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In a large pot combine onion, celery and a handful of carrots. I picked up a bag of already pre-sliced carrots. Makes life a little easier.

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Dice up a few cloves of garlic… Ok maybe that’s more than a few. What can I say, I love garlic!

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Peel some of the chicken off the bone. Dark meat is ok, adds lots of flavor. But be sure to remove all the skin.

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Dice up the chicken.

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Add chicken, garlic and four cups of chicken broth to the veggies in the pot. Depending on your ratio, you can add a cup or two of water if you think you need more liquid.

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Bring the soup to a boil. Then cover and reduce to a rolling simmer for about 25min. Check the vegetables to make sure the have reached your desired tenderness.

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Smells so good!

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Add some cilantro and avocado… This is where the southwest twist comes in.

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You can add a little salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

Spicy Apple Salsa with Lemon Butter Shrimp

This dish is one of those that I started with one idea, for spicy apple salsa, and then as I cooked I kept adding stuff. I was gathering the items to make the salsa and realized, “oh, black beans and rice would be great with this!” Then I opened the fridge and was like, “hey! I’ve got some shrimp!” And that’s pretty much how I came up with this. So even if you don’t have beans and rice or shrimp, this spicy apple salsa is still great on its own.

The combo of spicy and sour packs a one-two punch for your taste buds. I quite liked it, hope you do too!

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For the salsa, you’ll need:
1 Granny Smith Apple
1 jalapeño
1/3 of a large onion (white or red)
Fresh garlic
Cilantro
Cumin
Cayenne Pepper
Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 of a lemon
Kosher Salt

For the Rice and Black Beans:
1 cup brown rice
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves of garlic
Kosher salt
1 can black beans

For the shrimp:
Fresh shrimp
1 tablespoon butter
Fresh lemon

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First, let’s get the rice going. Mince up 2 cloves of garlic.

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In a pot, bring one cup brown rice, 2 cups of water, 1 tablespoon of butter, minced garlic and some sprinkles of kosher salt to a boil. Cook as you normally would rice.

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Now, pour the can of black beans into a colander.

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Rinse them really well with water. Getting all that liquid they come in off.

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Leave these in the colander and let them dry out a bit while you prepare everything else.

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Now, time to chop up the good stuff.

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Mince up the jalapeño and garlic. I minced the whole jalapeño, seeds and all. Up to you whether you’d like to remove them or not. Some people think the jalapeño seeds make it hotter but the final verdict isn’t out on this yet.

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Wash and slice the granny smith apple.

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Then dice up the apple. It’s ok if these are a little chunky, gives the salsa some crunch and texture.

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Dice up some onion. Really depends on if you like onion or not how much to use. I used just a little less than the amount of apple. The onion packs a ton of flavor, so I don’t suggest leaving it out all together.

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Avocado time! Slice that beauty up!

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Place all of that in a bowl. Add some chopped cilantro and squeeze the juice of half of a lemon.

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Now, time to add the heat! Just depends on how hot you like it. I added a few shakes of each. Sprinkle in some kosher salt too.

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Looking nice and fresh!

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Mix that up and set aside.

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Shrimp time! Have your shrimp and lemon ready. These do not need to cook for long at all. We are really more warming these up than anything.

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Melt a tablespoon of butter on medium heat.

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Add the shrimp and lemon juice. The more lemon, the more sour flavor you’ll get. This is an awesome compliment to the spicy salsa.

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Cook these for 2-3 minutes. They look about ready to me!

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Plate your rice with the black beans on top.

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Layer the spicy apple salsa over top the rice and beans.

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Now, pour that hot shrimp and lemon butter right over top of everything. Holy yum.

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Omg, this is making me so hungry!

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Such a colorful dish! And I love the taste combination of sour (granny smith apples and lemon) with the spicy (jalapeño, red pepper and cayenne). Gives your taste buds something to talk about!

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Perfect, light dinner! The salsa is great with tortilla chips all on its own. And for all my vegetarians out there, just skip the shrimp for an awesome meal!
Enjoy y’all!

Grilled Pork with Roasted Cabbage and Cilantro Yogurt

I got this idea after eating a lovely New Year’s day meal cooked by my friend Caroline Lomax. I had always heard that you are supposed to eat black eyed peas for luck but didn’t know you were also supposed to eat cabbage for health and pork for wealth. Even if it’s a little late for New Year’s this meal is still delicious and healthy. And maybe a little inspirational? If you haven’t really gotten started on those New Resolutions, there’s still time!

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You’ll need:
Center cut pork loin (these 4 cuts were just over a pound total, each about 4-5oz, perfect serving size!)
Worchestire Sauce and garlic for marinating

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Peel 4 small cloves of garlic.

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Ok, now we are going to crush these. If you ever watch cooking shows, you’ve seen the chefs pop those knives down on the garlic and smash it. I was a little more timid because I really didn’t want to lose a thumb. So, place the knife over the garlic cloves and press down hard.

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Bam! Crushed garlic!

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Poke the meat a little with a fork. Tenderizing.

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Now, in a Tupperware or bowl, layer garlic and pork.

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Pour Worchestire sauce over everything. And a little in between each piece of pork.

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Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

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Next, we are onto the cabbage and yogurt part. You’ll need:

1 cup Greek yogurt
1 lemon
2-3 fresh cloves of garlic
Chopped cilantro
Chopped cucumber
4 slices of cabbage
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
Olive oil

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Peel off the little paper lining on the yogurt.

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Place yogurt in a Tupperware or bowl because this needs to marinate too.

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Dice up the cilantro and cucumber and add to the yogurt. I used equal parts cucumber cilantro and cucumber. This is to taste and I like both so I added about a 1/3 cup of each.

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Mince up 3 small cloves of garlic.

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Add the garlic to the yogurt mixture.

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Mix everything up. Cover and place in fridge and let marinate for about an hour.

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Cabbage time! Key here is to keep the head intact while still properly washing all the dirt off. So, if you see any dirt remaining after washing, cut that part off and throw away. Cut of the butt of the cabbage.

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Slice 4 large pieces. So pretty.

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Place these on a baking sheet lined with foil.

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Squeeze fresh lemon juice all over.

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Be generous with the kosher salt.

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Drizzle with olive oil.

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Fresh cracked pepper to taste.

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I broiled these in a convection oven for about 8 minutes. If you don’t have a convection oven, broil until the edges are a little crispy. Since these cook quickly, wait until you are ready to start grilling to pop these in the oven.

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I didn’t get any pictures of these on the grill because it was pretty dark outside and they just didnt turn out. Warm the grill up and cook these about 5-6 minutes on each side.

Also, take your yogurt out of the fridge at this time and let it come to room temperature.

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Crispy edged cabbage!

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Alright, we are ready to plate! Place the cabbage on a plate and the pork over it.

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Top with cilantro yogurt.

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Such a pretty little dish!

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Enjoy!!

Butternut Squash and Kale with Whole Grains

I was pretty excited about making this dish! It’s warm (I’ve been craving warm food lately) and healthy so you don’t feel guilty about eating it, like say an Alfredo pasta. Plus, this is packed with tons of good for you veggies, so not only is it low cal but it’s actually healthy.

Originally, I intended to use barley risotto. However, upon my arrival at my regular grocery store, no barley risotto to be found. Considering the resolutioners were crowding up my store, I knew they’d be crawling all over the even healthier stores and I wasn’t in the mood to fight the crowds. So I settled on this quick cook, whole grain mix. It actually turned out working well because it gave the dish a little more variety in texture.

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You’ll need:

1/2 a butternut squash
3/4 a large white onion
2 cups of fresh kale
Several cloves of fresh garlic
1 cup of whole grains
2 cups of chicken broth (can sub vegetable broth and make this vegan!)
Fresh Parmesan, salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

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Finely chop the onion and garlic. The garlic is for taste and I love garlic so I added a lot. You can reduce this if you prefer. I used about 5 cloves.

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Wash and pat dry your kale. Remember to remove the ribs. If you need a reminder on how to do this click here. Scroll down and there’s a demo. Then slice the kale into smaller strips.

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Now for the butternut squash. Warning: this is not the easiest vegetable to work with. First, slice it in half down the middle.

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I had to take a break, arm strength was waning.

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Success!

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Use a spoon to scope out the flesh. You only need half of the butternut squash for this recipe but I went ahead and sliced and diced the whole thing so I can use the other half later.

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Now peel all the skin off. Since the shape of this squash is irregular this is a little challenging. Not too bad though.

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Now slice it up.

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Then dice it up into bite size pieces.

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Measure out a cup of grains and lets get to cooking!

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Drizzle the bottom of a large pot with olive oil. Add your onions and garlic. Cook on medium high heat until translucent.

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Should smell really good right about now!

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Stir in the butternut squash.

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Now add the kale. Let the kale wilt just a bit. Stir this around for 1-2 minutes.

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Then add two cups of chicken broth.

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Cover and bring to a boil.

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After it boils, add in one cup of grains.

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After adding grains, bring it back to a boil.

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Then transfer it to a small casserole dish.

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Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. The liquid will be absorbed while it’s cooking.

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And 30 minutes later… Dinner is ready!

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Add fresh grated Parmesan, salt and pepper to taste. Serve in a bowl.

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I like lots of Parmesan!

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Yum yum! Time to eat!

Spring Rolls

I, like everyone else it seems, could use a little detox after the holiday gorge fest. I get a little bored with regular old “healthy” type food and prefer to keep it real. As in real food, minimally processed that packs lots of nutrition and flavor. This the spring roll. Easy, healthy, and switches it up a little.

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The specialty items you’ll need:
Rice Paper
Rice Noodles
I found these in the Asian section at HEB but you can also get them at places like Thai Fresh and other Asian markets.

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Siracha and Soy Sauce for dipping if you like.

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As for your fresh ingredients:
Cabbage
Cilantro
Cucumber
Carrots
Shrimp

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Peel the cucumber.

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Then slice the ends off and cut it in half.

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Use a spoon to scrape out the flesh.

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Thinly slice the cucumber.

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Now cut the thin slices into thirds. Set aside.

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Peel off some cabbage leaves. Wash and pat them dry.

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Slice them into thin strips about the same size as the cucumber.

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In a boiling pot of water, place a handful of rice noodles. You don’t need much and these cook pretty quickly! Some only require about a minute in the boiling water, depends on the width and thickness of the noodle.

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They kinda stay stuck together while they cook unless you separate them. In this case, it’s ok for them to stick together.

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After removing from water, I let mine rest and dry out just a tad.

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Ok, now for the challenging part: Rice paper. Look! It’s already starting to curl just holding it over the pot. It’s a delicate ingredient.

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And my first attempt was an utter fail, haha.

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Discard that one and move on.

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Ok, it’s not perfect but definitely something I can work with. To do this, I dipped the rice paper in the water very quickly and had the plate right next to the stove. I laid it out as quickly as possible. Boom.

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Now for the fun part! Place the shrimp flat on the cooked rice paper.

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Layer the cabbage and cucumber slices over the shrimp.

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Now add carrot slices and cilantro.

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Top with a thin layer of cooked rice noodles and your ready to roll it up! The rice paper will be a little sticky and should roll up nicely.

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Ready to eat!

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I dipped mine in some siracha and soy sauce, yummy! Enjoy!

Thai Pork Noodle Soup

And my Asian food obsession continues… This time though it’s a much more simple recipe and pretty healthy. I love a good broth based soup. Warm and filling but not heavy. This is soup works great as a meal or starter.

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You’ll need:
2 cups of chicken broth
2 cups of water
1 lb of lean ground pork
 6-8oz of thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 bunch of scallions
2-3 cloves of fresh garlic
Fresh ginger
Wonton wrappers
Serrano pepper
Fresh cilantro
Canola oil
Limes wedges

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Wash and dice up your fresh ingredients.

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Thinly sliced scallions.

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 Shittake mushrooms.

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 Go ahead and slice up the wonton wrappers into 1inch wide strips and have those ready to go.

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Add a little canola oil to a large pot. Just enough to completely cover the bottom, about 2 tablespoons. Turn on medium high heat.

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Add in your scallions.

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Add in minced garlic and ginger. Mix everything together.

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After about 30 seconds, add in the pork. Use your spatula to break up the pork into small bits as it cooks.

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 After the pork is browned, sprinkle in a little kosher salt and add the shittake mushrooms.

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 Add in the 2 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups of water. Bring this to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.

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After the soup has simmered for a few minutes, stir in the wonton wrappers. These should soften quickly. Then your soup is almost ready!

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Place the soup in a bowl and top with fresh cilantro and Serrano peppers. Squeeze in a little fresh lime juice.

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Dig in and enjoy!

Chicken Tikka Masala

Why hello there. I’ve been hibernating over the holidays and my apologies in neglecting to post. The holidays aren’t quite over yet so I wanted to share one of my indulgences with you all.

Over the past year or so I’ve really been into Indian food. Probably due to the fact that a new Indian place opened up across the street. Not to mention it’s BYOW (bring your own wine) and they dont charge a corking fee, score! Tikka Masala is great starter dish if you’re a newbie. It’s often served as a vegetarian dish or with chicken or shrimp. The beef addition is definitely an American adaptation. Since I eat this dish out so much I decided to learn how to make it myself.

This required adding some extra spices to my collection but definitely worth it if you ask me. Hopefully, it will inspire me to make some more Indian dishes.

I hope you all enjoy this as much as I did!

You’ll need:

2-3 chicken breasts (I think I wound up using about 16oz)

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

280z of diced tomatoes

2 cups of rice

1 large onion

Fresh ginger

1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used plain greek yogurt)

8 oz or 1 stick of butter

4-5 cloves of fresh garlic

Kosher salt

Coriander

Turmeric

Garam Masala

Cumin

Optional Ingredients:

Cilantro

Serrano pepper

Green Peas

After you gather all those ingredients, let’s get to cooking!

Poke your chicken breasts a few times with a fork.

Sprinkle kosher salt over both sides of the chicken.

Now, sprinkle coriander and cumin on both sides of the chicken.

Generously cover both sides of the chicken with yogurt.

Then place your coated chicken breasts onto a wire rack that sits on a baking sheet covered in foil. You don’t have to cook the chicken on a wire rack if you don’t have one, it just helps the chicken cook evenly and speeds things up a bit.

Place the chicken in the oven and broil for 5-7 minutes then flip and broil 5-7 more minutes. My broiler wasn’t working properly at the time, so I cranked up the heat to 450 degrees and watched it. It should char a little on the edges, that’s how you’ll know it’s done.

ta-da!

Meanwhile, dice up your onion and other fresh ingredients.

Fresh peeled ginger, dice this up.

Mince up some fresh garlic cloves. I always add extra garlic, can’t help it, I love the stuff!

Thinly slice up the serrano pepper. I used one but if you like it spicey, add more! I was trying not to scare off my guests with my passion for spiciness.

Ok, now time to start on the rice. One part rice to two parts water. One cup of rice will probably suffice. Add 4 oz of butter.

Add a tablespoon or two of turmeric. This will give the rice that gorgeous yellow color and a little flavor too. Bring this to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and let cook as you normally would with rice.

Alright, let’s get started on the sauce! First, melt about 4oz of butter in a large sauce pan.

Throw in your diced onion with the melted butter and let brown a little.

Add in your fresh ginger and garlic. Sprinkle a little kosher salt too.

Here is that brown color we are talking about. If you scrape the bottom of the pan, the brown bits will start to come up. That’s ok.

Add about 3 tablespoons of Garam Masala. Stir this around. Should be getting very fragrant!

If you like the heat, now is the time to add those serranos!

Mix in that big can of tomatoes!

Steamy!

Add in a little sugar. I grabbed a packet of turbinado sugar. Any sugar will do, no more than a tablespoon.

Mix that all together and let simmer for a few minutes. The longer you let it simmer, the more heat will cook out of your serranos. AKA making it less spicy.

After about 3 or so minutes of simmering, time to add the cream. Things are really starting to come together!

Mix, mix, mix.

Remember that rice? Well, it should be about done now. Add about a cup of frozen peas right into the pot the rice is cooking in. Mix it up. The hot rice will cook the peas just right!

Dice up that chicken into bite size pieces and add to the sauce.

Add a handful (or two if you’re like me!) to the sauce.

Alright, you’ve made it! Plate that beautiful rice!

Top the rice with the sauce and add some extra cilantro if you like.

I could not wait to sit down and eat this!

Enjoy my friends! Namaste.

 

This recipe was adapted from Pioneer Woman, she’s the best!

Ginger Butternut Squash Soup

I have tried to make butternut squash soup before and utterly failed. So with winter coming fast, I wanted to give this soup one more go at it. This time I had success! The ginger and lemon really give the squash and sweet potatoes a lift and great fragrance.

Here goes!

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You’ll need:

One medium sized butternut squash
One clove of garlic
One large thumb sized piece of fresh ginger
2 cans of chicken broth (vegetarians and vegans can sub vegetable broth)
2 sweet potatoes
1 lemon
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh Parmigiano, parsley and black pepper to top if you want

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Cut the butternut squash in half. Takes a little elbow grease when it’s raw.

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Place the butternut squash and sliced sweet potatoes flesh side down on a baking sheet covered in foil and drizzled with olive oil. Slice the top off of a fresh clove of garlic and put it all in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30min.

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Meanwhile, peel and grate your fresh ginger. Set aside.

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Once the butternut squash and sweet potatoes are soft enough, scoop out the flesh from the skins and place into a food processor or blender. Discard the seeds and stringy part of the butternut squash.

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The garlic will look like this when it’s ready.

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Place some ginger and garlic into the blender with the sweet potatoes and butternut squash. Also, add chicken broth to help everything mix up evenly. It may take a few batches to get everything mixed up properly. Sprinkle a little kosher salt in each batch.

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Once blended, place into a large pot. Squeeze fresh lemon juice in and stir. I used the whole lemon, use to your taste. Let simmer for 10-15min. This will help the flavors blend and heat the soup back up. I added a half can of water at this step because the soup was pretty thick, this is optimal depending on how you like it.

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Serve hot. I topped my soup with Parmigiano, parsley and some black pepper. This will keep for up to a week in the fridge. Enjoy!

Waldorf Salad

In an attempt to start this week off on a healthier note, this is my take on Waldorf Salad. Packed with lots of fruit, veggies and nuts its def a healthy option during the holiday feasting season. I added chicken to give my salad a little more protein and make it a complete meal.

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You’ll need:
Lettuce (I used green leaf but butter leaf is more commonly used in this salad)
Chicken (I grabbed a rotisserie chicken but grilled would also work)
Granny smith apple (again any apple would work)
Lemon
Red seedless grapes
Celery
Pecans
Mayonnaise
Black pepper

I know, I know. You’re thinking mayo, that’s not healthy. But you only use a little bit and you need some fats to help properly digest all those vitamins in the healthy stuff.

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Wash and pat dry your lettuce. Chop it up.

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Wash and slice up the grapes, celery and apple.

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Combine the chopped fruit and veggies with pecans and 1-2 tablespoons of mayo. Squeeze the juice of half a large lemon. Mix it all up.

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Slice your desired amount of chicken off the breast. Dice it up. I served mine with chicken still hot.

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Add the chicken to the mix.

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Plate and serve. I ate this for a quick and healthy dinner. You could also serve it as a starter.

Baked Red Fish

Lately, I seem to be getting blog requests and suggestions from everyone I know. And I love it! Today’s post came from my roommate’s boyfriend. He went on a big fishing trip and brought back two huge red fish filets for me to cook up. I was so excited! It’s a pretty basic recipe but, hey, when you have quality fish it really doesn’t take much. This was enough for 6 people plus a little left over, so of course I had to invite my loyal taste testers Meredith Cranch, Lauren Yurko, Caroline Lomax and Emily Songy over for dinner with Alex and me. Don’t worry, Desha had to miss dinner but came by later to taste.

Thanks Alex and Desha!

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You’ll need:

1 medium size white onion
4 cloves of garlic
2 large lemons
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Cracked black pepper
Dried Thyme

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

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These are my two huge red fish filets! I rinsed them in the sink. I baked this red fish with the skin on.

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All the fresh ingredients chopped up.

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Drizzle olive oil in a glass baking dish until the bottom is covered. Place the red fish filets skin side down in the dish. Now, squeeze fresh lemon juice over the filets.

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Now drizzle a little olive oil over the fish then cover with fresh onion and garlic. Give a few shakes of dried thyme, cracked black pepper and kosher salt.

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Now it’s ready to go in the oven! Bake for about 12min at 350 degrees. Check the filets before serving but don’t over cook the fish or it will dry out and get tough.

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Garnish with a little roasted onion if you like and serve! Perfect Sunday night dinner!

Thanksgiving Turkey and Stuffing

Well, I survived cooking my first Thanksgiving Turkey! Wohoo! With help of my Granny and the Conder family, I was able to pull this off.

First off, it takes about four days to properly thaw a frozen turkey. So, I bought a fresh one… Which begs the question, why not just buy fresh in the first place? Well it’s about double the price in case you were wondering. Still, my 22lb turkey was $45 so not too bad.

Ok backing to cooking. I wanted to go all out and actually stuff my turkey, so it takes about 5hrs to cook in a convection oven. Of course before you start on the turkey, you’ll need to make the stuffing.

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For the stuffing, you’ll need:
3 packs of cornbread mix
7 eggs
2 cups of milk
12 slices of toasted bread
1 stalk of chopped celery
2 cups of chopped onion
4 cans of chicken broth
2 sticks of butter
Lots of dried sage

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Mix eggs, milk and cornbread mix.

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All mixed up.

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Now bake the cornbread (don’t forget to spray the pan with Pam!) and I toasted the bread at the same time.

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While the cornbread is baking, chop up your celery and onion.

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Now, sauté in a pan with a stick of butter. The recipe didn’t call for it but I added 3 cloves of minced garlic.

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Sauté until slightly softened.

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Dice up the toasted bread.

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 Now mix cut up bread and crumbled cornbread. We crumbled the corn bread with our hands and mixed everything in the turkey baster because you need to something that big to get everything mixed.

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Now add the sautéed vegetables.

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Add 4 beaten eggs.

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Add 4 cans of chicken broth.

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Add 1 stick of melted butter.

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Add tons of sage. Probably 5-6 tablespoons or to taste.

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Now mix it all up. Set aside because now its turkey time!

Oven should already be preheated to 350 degrees.

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For the turkey, you’ll need:

A turkey, duh!
 Oven bags- you don’t have to use this but it really helps keep the turkey moist and makes cleaning up a breeze.
1 stick of butter
Some extra celery and onion chopped up
Dried parsley and thyme
2 tablespoons of flour

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 Now you will need to rinse the turkey and remove the neck and the bag of guts inside. I almost missed the bag of guts! They will be in a little plastic bag… I couldn’t find them but Mr. Conder came over and was like no they are in there and pulled them out. Totally avoided disaster. Would have had melted plastic in my turkey. So lesson learned, the guts are in there… So look until you find them.

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Now time to rub your turkey down in butter, parsley and thyme. I used my hands to do this… It gets messy.

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Pull the skin away from the meat. Now, just slide the butter and herbs all around using your hands. Messy, messy but totally worth it.

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Flour the bag. This is very important or the bag will blow up!

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In the bottom of the bag add some celery and onion slices.

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Now, turkey goes into the floured bag with the celery and onion on the bottom.

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Stuff that bird!!

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 I had extra stuffing left over, so I put it in a baking pan and cooked for an hour and 20min. I left it in the fridge until the turkey had about an hour to go so everything would be timed correctly.

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 Now close up the bag. Rinse out the turkey baster that you previously mixed the stuffing in, and place bagged turkey in baster. I put the baster on a cookie sheet for extra support. If you have a heavy bird, you will definitely need this!

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Make slits in the bag.

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 Pop it in the oven with the meat thermometer. Since my turkey was stuffed and so big it took about 5hours and 15min to cook at 350 degrees. I didn’t need to do anything to the turkey during that time.

When the turkey is ready, the meatiest part of the beast will read 165degrees on the meat thermometer.

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Now can you believe after all that hard work I forgot to take a picture of the finished bird!! This is what it looked like after I carved the roast beast.

The turkey will need to sit out for about 30min before you start carving it.

The best part about all of this, you can just throw away everything at the end. No clean up! Yay!

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It’s all ready for my 40 closest friends to dig in and feast!

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Don’t forget about that extra stuffing!!

Tomorrow, all the other sides ready for your feasting eyes!! Happy Thanksgiving y’all!!

Zuppa Toscana

I made this last Sunday for my friend Kendall’s birthday. She loves

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kale haha, so we decided this soup would perfect way to end our lazy Sunday. Besides, ever since my Whole Foods Cooking Class I have been wanting to cook kale. I have also been craving soups lately, maybe it’s because the weather is turning cooler. What I love about this recipe is that it has a little cream to give the soup that heartiness but it’s not nearly as heavy as a chowder or chili. Plus, the kale packs tons of good for you vitamins.

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You’ll need:

2 cans of chicken broth
1 cup of heavy cream
1 large white onion
3 large cloves of garlic
2 cups chopped fresh kale
1lb spicy sausage (can use Italian instead to lighten the spiciness)
2 large russet potatoes
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

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Chop the onion and mince the garlic. Set aside.

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Peel the potatoes and rinse any dirt off.

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Dice the potatoes into bite size pieces. About an inch cubed.

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Wash the kale. Now it’s time to show y’all what I learned at my Whole Foods Cooking Class. Fold the kale leaf in half so that the rib or spine is on one edge.

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Now slice the rib off. Once the rib gets pretty thin towards the top of the leaf, you can leave that part.

Since kale is a hearty green, it’s can be cooked down in a soup like this without falling apart like say, spinach.

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Chop the kale.

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Brown the sausage for 5-7 minutes. Then add the onions and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.

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Now, add the garlic and red pepper. Stir in for about 1 minute.

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Meanwhile, bring potatoes, kale, 2 cans of chicken broth and 2 cans of water to a boil.

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Once boiling, add sausage, onions, garlic and red pepper.

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Mix all together and bring back to a boil.

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Reduce to medium heat, cover and cook for 20min.

If you’re like me and don’t have a bunch of fancy kitchenware, then put a pan over your pot to cover.

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After 20min, add 1 cup of heavy cream. That blur on the picture is me pouring the cream in.

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Stir and serve. It’s delicious and quite a fragrant soup. This will make about 8-10 servings.

Crock Pot Chicken

I love using my crock pot but sometimes the time (4 hours, 6 hours) isn’t really conducive to my work schedule. This super easy and healthy recipe cooks in an hour and half so you can easily make it after work. I came home threw everything in the pot, worked out and came back to my dinner waiting for me! I added a few other options below that cook more chicken and take a little longer if you have the time.

You’ll need:

1lb Chicken Breast

2 large carrots

2 large stalks of celery

Onion

2 cloves of garlic

Fresh rosemary

Wash and chop all the veggies. Mince the garlic.

Mix all the veggies and put in the bottom of the pot. Make sure the vegetables go on the bottom! This will keep the meat moist and not burn. I threw in some mushrooms at the last minute that needed to get eaten but they are not traditionally part of this recipe. Cant let a good vegetable go to waste!

Place chicken breast on top of the vegetables and poke it a few times with a fork. Put the romsemary on top of the chicken. Cook on high for an hour and a half. No need to add extra water, these vegetables are naturally full of water and will make their own broth.

Other options: You could cook two breasts of chicken and that would probably take about 2 hours, maybe a little less on the high setting.

If you wanted to cook an entire small chicken, you can cook that on high for 4 hours or low setting for 6 hours. Be sure to get a chicken that is “ready to cook” if not be sure to remove all the guts… I have forgotten to do this before and it wasnt pretty afterwards. If you are cooking for more than 2 hours, pour 1/4 cup of water over the chicken to keep it from drying out with the extra cooking time.

It will look like this when its finished. Be sure to cut the chicken and make sure its cooked throughly.

Ta-Da! I served mine with a little cheesy rice. You could also serve with noodles or biscuits or its great just by itself. I only ate half the chicken breast and took the other half to work the next day for lunch, it’ll keep for a day or two in the fridge.

Ranch 616

Anyone want a margarita? Because I could sure use one. Especially this one from Ranch 616.

After an afternoon of game watching at J Black’s, Leah Pigg, Ellie Little, Luke Thompson and I decided to grab some dinner at Ranch 616. We got several different dishes and split everything, which is my favorite. I love being able to try several different things, especially when there are so many great choices!

After we ordered our drinks, we started things off with the Don Combo, fried oysters and bacon wrapped shrimp.

Close up of the bacon wrapped shrimp with ranch.

They kindly split our Ranch Slice of Ice, so this is a mini piece. Of course, extra pepper on mine!

This was a special, mahi mahi with tiger shrimp and topped with bananas. It was definitely different but awesome at the same time. Hopefully, I’ll make it back before they take this one off the menu!

Of course, bacon and cheese mashers on the side were gone in no time with this crowd.

This is Jalapeno Maize Chicken, quite delish.

They brought out these awesome biscuits at the end… not that I needed more carbs but I definitely helped myself 🙂

This picture didnt turn out as well but what would dinner be without dessert?

Backspace

I finally went to Backspace Austin! It’s this great little pizza place right behind Parkside on 6th and San Jacinto. It’s a tiny restaurant and I had tried to go several times before but there was always over an hour wait or our group was too big to be seated. I was thrilled when Caroline Ittner , Meredith Cranch and I finally made a date to go to last week.


I tried to take good pictures but the lighting was dim, perfect for ambiance, however not so perfect for food photography.


For our appetizer, we chose the prosciutto wrapped mozzarella garnished with pears and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. It was delicious and we gobbled these up in no time. This appetizer was excellent however if you’re hoping for something more filling I might go with something else as this dish was small.


This was my favorite of the night! Pizza Bianca. Lots and lots of fresh arugula with ricotta, mozzarella, and Romano cheeses.

The crusts on these pizzas are amazing! They are all cooked in a traditional wood-fire oven, which is open to the restaurant so you can see your pizza being made.


This is Peperoni Americano pizza with tomato, mozzarella, salami and basil. This was a hit too!

I definitely suggest you make a reservation, especially if you’re going on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

Hope y’all enjoy this place as much as I did! I will definitely be going back!

Coconut Lemongrass Soup

With the cold front that blew in last night, who wouldn’t want to cuddle up with a hot bowl of soup? The great thing about this soup is that it’s filling without being too heavy and keeps well, so it’s perfect to make a lot and keep the rest for leftovers or take to work for lunch.

You’ll need:

Carrots- I used 2 large bulk carrots and peeled and sliced them.

Cilantro- this is to add at the end, so you won’t need much. Or if you don’t like cilantro you can leave it out all together.

Garlic- 2 to 3 fresh cloves.

Mushrooms- I grabbed a carton of shrooms that were already sliced and washed.

Ginger- get the fresh kind. You’ll need a piece about the size of a thumb. I have small hands so I overestimated.

Lemongrass- I had to go to Central Market to get this! I asked the produce guy and he helped me pick a fresh piece. It won’t look dried out. It’s located by the herbs and kind of looks like a small piece of bamboo or stalky green onion.

Chicken Broth- 3 cans or about 6 cups.

Coconut Milk- 1 can or 2 cups. I usually love Goya brand products but havent had good luck with their coconut milk or cream. I suggest using a premium Asian brand, they are much better quality.

Lime

Asian Noodles- any rice noodle will do. I always like to try different textures.

Chicken- about 1lb aka 1 chicken breast.

Fish Sauce- you can find this near the soy sauce at the grocery store.


Peel the brown skin off of the ginger. I just used my fingers because the odd shape made using a knife or peeler a little dangerous. The skin comes off pretty easily.


Chop up all the veggies and dice the ginger and garlic.


Cut the chicken into small bite size pieces.


For the lemongrass, peel the thicker outter layers off. Then chop off the bulb or end part. Thinly slice, just like you would a green onion.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Then add noodles. Turn off heat and allow noodles to soak while you cook.


I cooked my chicken a little in a skillet before adding to the soup, just to be on the safe side.

Meanwhile, bring chicken broth, carrots, and garlic to a boil. Reduce to simmer and add mushrooms, ginger, chicken, fish sauce and coconut milk. Simmer for 15min.

The fish sauce will add a salty flavor. Add one to two tablespoons depending on your preference.

Place noodles in the bottom of the bowl then pour hot soup over them. Top with cilantro and serve! I added some Siracha to my bowl to amp up the spice.

This will keep well for a few days in the fridge so enjoy!

Whole Foods Cooking Class

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m a huge Twitter fan. (you can follow me @natalieparamore) That being said, a few weeks ago I won a cooking class at Whole Foods by answering a trivia question via Twitter. Awesome! I got to bring a guest and the lovely Ms.Charisse Sayers came with me!

I wanted to share the all the great photos because these are the kinds of things that inspire my cooking. More importantly, I wanted to share what I learned about Whole Planet Foundation. It’s Whole Foods non-profit that gives micro loans to those in need in third world countries to establish their own businesses. If you’ve never heard of micro finance loans, I suggest you check it out. They are really cool programs!


Here is a picture of the menu. I have to admit, I was so hungry that I ate the Kenyan Style Tomatoes and Kale before I took a picture…oops! But it’s a dish that I will definitely be making for the blog, so be on the lookout.


When we arrived, we got to choose to between water or a variety of dry sodas. I chose lemongrass and it was surprisingly refreshing! I wasn’t sure what to expect but the best way I can describe it is as a flavored sparkling water.


The main dish was a Peruvian style chicken. We were actually served half of a chicken with green rice. The Peruvian spice rub wasn’t spicy but had a great flavor.

The coconut bread was what I was most excited about! When I read the menu before attending, I thought the coconut bread was going to be dessert. However, the bread wasn’t really sweet but instead had a hint of coconut flavor that accompanied the Peruvian spices quite well. The Chef demonstrated how to make the bread, even using live yeast! I have never made homemade bread before but I want to try it after tasting this bread!

At the end of the meal, we got these yummy frozen bananas dipped in dark chocolate. I want to make these ASAP!

Spaghetti Squash Bake

I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not but there’s lots and lots of winter squash in the grocery store lately. I have always been a little curious about the spaghetti squash and if it’s really like spaghetti on the inside. Well, it does pull apart and the strands of squash do look a lot like spaghetti but the texture is softer. I decided to bake it together with some veggies and meat, making a low carb casserole type dish.

You’ll  need:

A spaghetti squash

Red bell pepper

Italian parsley

Half of a large onion

Minced garlic

1lb of sausage

2 strips of bacon

Cheddar cheese

Cut the spaghetti squash in half and place flesh-side down on a baking pan. Drizzle the pan with olive oil and roast the squash for 20-30min at 350 degrees. This will soften the squash and make scooping out the flesh a lot easier.

Scoop out the seeds first. Then with a fork, begin to peel the squash away from the skin.

In an skillet, brown the sausage. Then add the chopped red bell pepper, garlic, parsley and onion and sautee for 10 min. Cook the bacon until crisp.

In a baking dish, combine the squash and sausage, veggie mix.

Top with cheddar cheese and bacon bits.

Bake at 350 for 20min or until cheese is bubbly.

Plate and salt and pepper to taste.

I threw on a few slices of fresh avocado at the last minute. This is a tasty and healthy one dish meal.

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

I’ve been wanting to barbecue something on a skewer for a while now. However, after my attempt, I highly suggest you use skewers that were made for grilling. I didn’t, and the ones I used burned up like little toothpicks pretty quickly. The shrimp still turned out delicious but the grilling part got a little messy. Just another grilling adventure and lesson learned by a barbecue amateur.

You’ll need:
1lb fresh shrimp
Fresh lemon
Dijon Mustard
Minced garlic
Parsley
Basil
Kosher salt
Cracked black pepper
Onion
Orzo
Olive oil


The shrimp I bought had not been peeled, so I removed the shells and left the tails. I also have them a good rinse afterwards.


Add I few table spoons of Dijon mustard, a few shakes of parsley and basil, two heaping spoonfuls of garlic and sprinkle with kosher salt and cracked pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.


Mix well and then add fresh squeezed lemon juice.


Let marinate for at least an hour in the fridge.


When you are ready to begin grilling, slice an onion to throw on the top rack of the grill. You might want to start cooking the orzo now, it cooks like rice, 2 parts water to 1 part pasta.


I sliced the uncooked bacon strips in half to better fit the shrimp.


Wrap the uncooked bacon around the shrimp. I put three to a skewer. Remember to use skewers good for grilling!


Grill over a medium fire for about five minutes each side or until the bacon is cooked to your desired crispness. Grill the fresh onion on the top rack or bottom rack as long as the fire doesn’t get too hot and burn it.


Now plate your skewers over a bed of orzo with grilled onion and enjoy! I served mine with a dollop of extra Dijon mustard for dipping and it was very good.

Egg and Sausage Stack on Sourdough Toast

I was craving something for a late breakfast the other day, but wanted something a little more hearty. This post was inspired by the one and only Peter Pevoto. He posted a picture of his eggs in a nest breakfast on my Facebook wall, and the idea of eggs in a nest inspired this eggs in a red bell pepper idea. Hope yall enjoy!

You’ll need:

Fresh Sourdough Bread (thinner breads might fall apart, so choose a bread with some substance)

1 Egg

Sausage

Fresh Garlic

Fresh Bell Pepper

Crushed Red Pepper

Olive Oil

At the last minute, I threw a little of my homemade Spicy Italian Dipping Sauce on top

Mince the garlic.

I cooked everything in the same pan. I used a cast iron skillet and highly suggest you use cast iron if you have one. Place minced garlic in the pan and generously drizzle with olive oil.

Place your bread in the pan and brown on both sides.

Each side should look something like this. Those spots on the bread are the garlic.


I added crushed red pepper and some fresh garlic to the sausage patty before cooking. Be sure to evenly mix the extra ingredients into the meat before cooking.

This is my attempt at making the sausage patty in the same shape as the bread.

Be sure to cook the sausage all the way through.

Wash and slice the red bell pepper, removing the ribs and seeds.

Drizzle extra olive oil in the skillet and place the bell pepper slice in. Crack the egg into the bell pepper slice. If your slice does not have even edges, some of the egg whites might slip out, not a big deal.


If you like your eggs sunny side up, then skip this step. I cracked the yolk on mine and flipped it, creating a fried egg.

Now, plate the bread with the sausage and bell pepper with egg on top. I added some Italian dipping sauce herbs for extra flavor. Hot sauce or pico de gallo would go great as well.

Chicken and Cheese Orzo Casserole

I had a girlfriend over for dinner last week and I had this whole great menu planned out, it was lovely. However, right before she came over I found out that she was allergic to shellfish! So, last minute I had to scrap my main dish (bacon wrapped shrimp, don’t worry itll be in a later post) and subbed this concoction in. I mean, who doesn’t love a casserole? Cheesy, warm and all those great comfort food flavors. Besides, I had to work with what I already had in my fridge plus a quick trip to the store for a chicken. It turned out great, so I decided to share. Hope y’all enjoy!

You’ll need:

1/2lb cut up Rotisserie Chicken (no skin)

2 cups dry Orzo Pasta

12oz Evaporated Milk

Flour

Garlic

Grated Cheese (I used mozzarella)

Spinach

4 cups Chicken Broth (or salted water if you’re in a pinch)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Chop up the spinach and chicken and set aside. You could use chicken breasts but I was in a hurry so I grabbed a rotisserie chicken and just cut the meat off the bone.

I boiled the orzo in chicken broth and then let it soak. Orzo cooks like rice, 2 parts liquid to 1 part pasta.

Meanwhile, on another burner, sautee garlic in olive oil. About 2min, do not let garlic burn.

Add about 2 tablespoons of flour to the pan and stir.

Add 12oz can of evaporated milk to flour and garlic pan. The flour might get lumpy, so be sure to smooth out and try and mix it well.

Add chopped spinach and chicken to the pan.

Stir all together. It will probably start to all stick together like this.

Stir in orzo.

Place into casserole dish (spray with Pam first!). Cover with grated mozzarella cheese. Bake for about 2omin on 350 degrees or until cheese is bubbly.

It will come out of the oven piping hot and looking like this!

Place on a plate and sprinkle with a little extra mozzarella. Delish.