Fall Salad: Baby Greens with Pears, Candied Pecans and Blue Cheese

Y’all know how much I love a great salad! I usually put plenty of strawberries, cucumbers and lots of other summer produce into my salads but with fresh summer produce dwindling, I’ve been searching for something new. After reading an article about pears on one of my favorite blogs, Camille Styles, I decided this fall fruit would definitely hit the spot!

You’ll need:

Baby Greens

Candied Pecans

Bartlett Pear

Blue Cheese

Cracked Black Pepper

Olive Oil

Balsamic Vinegar

Pretty simple assembly, wash and slice pear into thin slices. Arrange on a bed of baby greens. Sprinkle with candied pecans, blue cheese and cracked pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

The perfect salad, full of fall flavors and ready to pair with your favorite dish!

Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Couscous

I’ve been wanting to make something with portobello mushrooms for a while now. Plus, I haven’t used the grill in a while either so this was the perfect combo. I have heard that portobello mushrooms are the “steaks” of mushrooms and are hearty and great on the grill, so here goes!

I stuffed the mushrooms with garlic couscous and goat cheese and served them with steamed broccoli. You could definitely get creative with more vegetables or meats for the stuffing but I wanted to keep it simple and healthy for this dish.

You’ll need:

2 large portobello mushrooms

Head of broccoli

Package of couscous (I used garlic flavor)

Garlic

Goat cheese

Worcestershire sauce

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First, wash your portobellos really well, removing all the dirt. Be sure to check the gills!

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Remove the stems. Now you are ready to marinate the portobellos. Place them in a covered dish and soak with worcestershire sauce and garlic. Place in fridge and let marinate for about 2 hours.

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Once you are ready to start cooking, wash and chop your broccoli. Steam the broccoli with garlic and fresh lemon juice.

After you’ve started steaming your broccoli, you can start making the couscous. Follow the directions on the box but its really simple. Just boil, add couscous, remove from heat and let soak.

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These are what your portobellos will look like after marinating for a while.

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Place portobellos on the grill, medium heat, gills side down for about 5 minutes.

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Flip the portobellos over and grill for another 5 minutes or so. Then they should be tender and ready!

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I stirred some goat cheese into the couscous once it was done cooking.

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Now, plate your portobello and fill with the couscous and top with more goat cheese. Add the steamed broccoli and your meal is complete!

Creamy Avocado Pasta

The cooler weather definitely has me craving some more hearty dishes but with plenty of summer produce in the stores and my love for avocados this dish really hit the spot. The avocado really tames the heat of the jalapeño and cilantro while allowing their flavors to still come through. This would be great as side or paired with grilled chicken.

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You’ll need:

2 Avocados

Half a bushel of Cilantro

Goat Cheese

Fresh Lime

Whole Wheat Angel Hair Pasta

Garlic

Olive Oil

Half a fresh Jalapeño

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Chop up the avocados, cilantro, jalapeño and garlic.

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Place into a food processor.

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After pulsing for a while, it should start to look like this. Keep pulsing and add some olive oil. To get it this creamy, you’ll probably have to use a spoon and stir in between pulsing.

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After completely blended, add some fresh lime juice.

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Now, blend in some Goat Cheese. If you’re not a Goat Cheese fan, feta would work although it might not be as creamy.

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After boiling the pasta, drain. I stirred the avocado mixture with pasta right in the pot while still warm. This helped everything blend together really smoothly.

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Place on a plate and serve! I topped it with a little more Goat Cheese, yummy!

Cheesy Enchiladas with Turkey and Spinach

For Mexican girls night dinner, I decided to take the plunge and make enchiladas. I was never really a fan of enchiladas growing up. I think the red sauce always creeped me out. This was my first attempt at enchiladas and they turned out awesome! I took a few steps to make these on the healthier side but still plenty on delicious.

You’ll need:

Whole Wheat Tortillas

Ground Turkey

Fresh Spinach

Red Onion

Cilantro

Garlic

Cheese

Chili Powder

Cumin

Fresh Jalapeno

Valentina Hot Sauce

Chop up about half a red onion, 2 cloves of garlic and a small jalapeno.

In a pan, saute ground turkey, onion, garlic, jalapeno and a few shakes of cumin and chili powder.

Chop up about 2-3 cups of fresh spinach and half a bushel of cilantro.

Now spray the pan with non-stick spray and coat the bottom with Valentina Hot Sauce.

In a whole wheat tortilla, combine sautéed turkey and veggies with chopped spinach and cilantro. Sprinkle with cheese and roll up like a burrito.

Do this until you’ve made as many enchiladas as you want. Placing them side by side in a baking pan.

Now cover enchiladas with Valentina sauce and grated cheese.

Cook in oven on 200 degrees for 10-15min or until cheese is bubbling.

Serve them up hot! My enchiladas aren’t particularly heavy on the sauce, so a lot of the girls topped theirs with extra salsa, pico or guacamole which was delish and another healthy option.

Viva Enchiladas!

Fried Chicken

I started this section in honor of my Granny. These are dishes that I grew up eating on Sundays and holidays with my family. Some of these dishes might be a little more labor intensive than my usual cooking but I promise, it’ll be worth it.

Down here in Austin, my friends are my family and I wanted to treat them as such by cooking my favorite meal that my Granny makes me.

Fried chicken and mashed potatoes.

Here’s what you will need to make fried chicken. Click here for mashed potatoes (coming soon).

Chicken Breasts

Buttermilk

Flour

Season Salt (I mixed Lawry’s and Tony Chachere’s)

2 eggs

Vegetable Oil

Wash and pat dry the chicken breasts.

Slice into one inch wide strips.

Then poke the chicken with a fork (I think they call this “tenderizing”).

Next, place into a dish and cover with buttermilk.

Let this soak for a while. The longer the better. I let mine soak for almost two hours. Place in fridge while soaking.

When you are ready to start cooking, beat 2 eggs in a dish and set aside.

Then mix flour, season salt and Tony Chacere’s in a separate dish. Go easy on the seasoning or else the chicken might turn out salty.

Next transfer the chicken strips from the buttermilk pan to eggs. Completely coat with egg then cover in the flour mixture. Beware: this gets messy!

Once you have completed this step, it’s time to heat up the cooking oil. I used vegetable oil but canola oil is ok too.

Make sure that the oil is nice and hot. It will start to give off that “fried” smell. You can test the heat by placing a little piece of batter in the pan. If it immediately starts to sizzle, then your oil is ready.

Begin by placing the chicken strips into the frying pan. Be careful the oil could pop ya!

Granny said “do not crowd the chicken while it is cooking” so make sure you don’t try and overload your pan with chicken.

Cook each side until golden brown. Probably 3 minutes or so each side but use your judgment.

The oil will begin to cook off so add a little more as you cook. Be careful not to add too much oil or the temperature will drop and you’ll have to wait for the oil to heat back up again.

Its important for the oil to stay hot or else the chicken batter will get soggy, not that crisp we are looking for.

After the chicken is finished cooking, place it on a paper towel. Wait for it to cool, then serve!

It will smell so delicious that you will have a hard time waiting to eat it!

Poached Egg Salad

Ive been craving poached eggs lately. Not sure why, maybe I need more protein or something. Anyways, I decided to add a poached egg to my staple salad: spinach with strawberries, cucumber and avocado. Don’t be afraid… it may sound hard but I’ve had great success using this method to poach an egg.

1. Bring water to a “rolling simmer” not boiling but more than just a few bubbles.

2. Crack egg and place into a bowl with gentle edges so the yoke wont break as you pour it into the water. I used a glad tupperwear and it worked great!

3. Now begin to stir your “rolling simmer” water creating a little whirpool. Very carefully pour the egg into the center of the whirlpool. Now, here’s the tricky part, don’t pour too slowly or all the whites will get separated. A little of the whites will always boil off in my experience but you want to avoid as much as possible.

4. Scour the whites that boil off out of the top of the pot. Let the egg continue to cook for a few minutes. About 3 minutes but times may vary.

5. Have a folded paper towel ready to place the poached egg on after you carefully scoop it out.

6. Then I added the egg atop my usually salad:

  • Spinach
  • Quartered Strawberries
  • Chopped cucumber
  • ½ an avocado
  • Sprinkle with: Feta, Pepper, Garlic Sea Salt and

the secret ingredient Italian Seasoning

  • Drizzle with Balsamic vinegar and olive oil

There you have it! Another one of my favorites… a fork and knife salad.

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Dove Season

In case you weren’t aware, its dove season in Texas. I have never been hunting but every guy I run into lately cannot stop talking about dove season. Therefore, at recent gatherings there has been lots of dove eating. This past weekend my guy friends made these stuffed dove breasts. They were quite delicious and I made sure to grab a few before they were all gone!

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Dove Breasts

Cheese (jalapeno jack, cheddar)

Fresh jalapeno

Bacon

Skewers

•Stuff the breast with the cheese and fresh jalapeno slices

•Wrap the stuffed breast with uncooked bacon and slide over a skewer

•Cook on the grill until the bacon is crisp and the meat is cooked thoroughly

Your friends and family will thank you for making these!

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I have to give credit where credit is due… so a big thanks to the grill masters of the night

Travis Robertson

and

Kyle Spencer

for cooking up these birds.

And ladies, these two handsome fellas are single and ready to mingle so click on their name above and send them a message on Facebook!

Tortellini Skewers

I did this take on tortellini for a potluck lunch at work. Its fun and easy and people just really loved the skewers haha.

Frozen Cheese Tortellini

Pesto (I used TexaFrance garlic pesto)

Skewers

Boil the tortellini like normal. Don’t let them get too soft or they will fall off of the skewer.

Drain tortellini and mix in several spoonfuls of pesto.

Start sliding the tortellini onto the skewers. I put 3-4 on each skewer.

Place onto a platter. I tried to arrange these in a circular fashion at first but it looked really messy so I went with placing them all the same way and it looked much better.

2 great things about this dish:

  • You can make it the night before and put in the fridge and serve cold the next day!
  • The whole thing costs less than $10!

Happy potlucking!

Aspen, Colorado

I recently visited Aspen, CO for a friends wedding. The wedding was beyond gorgeous (see mountain top picture) and the food was delightfully inspiring! I wanted to share all the amazing photos and you will definitely be seeing me try to use some of these things in my cooking!

Check out some of the cool places I visited:

The Little Nell 

Junk Aspen

Madam Mam’s Green Curry Chicken

Remember how I said I love Thai food? Well having spent numerous years of my life combing the UT campus I came to love Madam Mam’s! I mean who doesn’t? My absolute favorite dish there is the Green Curry Chicken! Of course, I like mine spicy. As if the Thai spices they use aren’t enough… I add a little Siracha just to give it even more kick. Because its only good spicy food if it makes you cry!

I definitely prefer green curry to yellow curry. Green curry has a smoother flavor, I think, and is less pungent than yellow curry. And quite frankly, its looks more appetizing too. I have ordered this with shrimp and as a vegetarian dish and have never been disappointed.

Check out more at:

http://www.madammam.com/

Roast Beef Panini with Horseradish Cheddar

After having a panini at Enoteca, I had been craving one and decided to do my own take on this sandwich. This hearty, cheesy little morsel was created right on my very own George Foreman Grill i.e. no fancy skills required!

Soft Sourdough Bread fresh from the Bakery
Fresh Spinach
Boar’s Head Roast Beef thinly sliced
Boar’s Head Horseradish Cheddar thinly sliced
1/2 an avocado
Butter

Butter the outsides of the bread and place one slice, butter side down, on grill.

Layer roast beef and sliced avocado.

Place some spinach on top.

I put the cheese on last so it can melt over everything and help hold the panini together while you eat it.

Place the other piece of bread on top, butter side up.

Close the grill and let cook for 3-4minutes. Times may vary depending on how quickly your George Foreman or panini maker heats up.

Slice in half and enjoy! The perfect deli style sandwich without all the fuss.

Stuffed Zucchini

I am always looking to make dinner with whatever I have laying around the house. Maybe its not feeling a trip to the grocery or maybe its my budget… not sure.  This night I was attending a pot luck girls night and stuffed zucchini is what I came up with! Simple ingredients but it was delicious and a huge hit with the girls!

Whole Zucchinis

Bacon

Cherry or Grape Tomatoes

Minced Garlic

Olive Oil

Italian Seasoning (I use salt-free McCormick’s Perfect Pinch)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Fry bacon in skillet to desired crispness. I cooked mine extra crispy for this recipe and it turn out great. Place bacon on a paper towel to cool. When cool enough break into small pieces. Set bacon aside.

Wash and slice zucchinis in half. I cut off the ends too.

Take a spoon and scoop out the soft, middle part of the zucchini. Dump the guts, as I like to call them, into a mixing bowl.

Wash and slice a handful of cherry or grape tomatoes. Place into mixing bowl.

Add a small spoonful of minced garlic and a couple shakes of Italian seasoning.

Add bacon and mix all together.

Now, fill zucchini boats with mixture and bake in oven about 25min.

Take out zucchinis and sprinkle with Monterey jack cheese and put back in the oven for about 5min.

Now youre done! I sliced the zucchinis into thirds and served as appetizers.  Option: leave the zucchinis whole and serve as an entrée with rice or couscous.

Roasted Corn

Perfect for a summer to fall transition: Roasted Corn. This is my take on Mexican Street Corn called Elotes. I prefer my elotes on the spicier side but you could tone it down. I use creole seasoning for a Cajun kick to this Mexican favorite.

Corn on the Cob- go fresh from the produce section

Tony Chacere’s Original Creole Seasoning

Butter

Pretty simple: peel corn and make sure to get all the fibers removed. I usually cut the stalk off the end too.

Place in foil and coat all sides of corn with butter.

Sprinkle with Tony Chacere’s (the more you sprinkle the spicier it gets!)

Close foil and make a little gathering at the top so you can easily remove it from the oven later. Makes a tent like shape.

Cook in oven for 30-35min at 375 degrees.

I often use this same method when grilling but instead of roasting corn in the oven put it on the top rack of the grill. I didn’t add cheese this time but many people like to top roasted corn with cotija or parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Asian Noodle Soup

I definitely enjoy Asian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese… ok maybe I just really like all food. However, cooking Asian food has always intimidated me but this recipe is super easy and a great way to change it up in the kitchen.

Asian Noodles: I used “instant rice noodles”

Chopped: zucchini, red bell pepper and carrots

Fresh Basil

Olive Oil

Red Curry Paste

Boil water. Then turn down heat to slow simmer. Submerge noodles in water then turn off heat and separate noodles and let soak.

Saute about 2 tablespoons of red curry paste (or more if like it extra spicy!) in olive oil for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Add coconut cream and stir.

Add chopped vegetables and cook to your preferred crispness. Some people prefer their veggies a little crunchier, I prefer slightly softer but NOT mushy.

Drain noodles and place a serving into bowl.

Cover with coconut veggie sauce. Top with torn basil and enjoy!

(Note: This would also be great with chicken or shrimp)

adapted from zenfamilyhabits.com

Prosciutto Panini at Enoteca

Vespaio and Enoteca on South Congress have been on my restaurant wish list for quite a while now. This Labor Day I finally went for lunch. Being an Italian place I assumed the prosciutto would be amazing (and it was!) and I’ve been craving eggs lately so this panini had it all! It was hearty, cheesy, salty… all those lovely Italian things.

We also tried the calamari and caprese salad as starters. It was a filling meal and I left very happy. I will definitely be back to one evening to try out some pasta dishes on their patio.

Check out more at: Enoteca 

Baked Salmon with Sweet Potatoes

I have my twitter followers to thank for this tantalizing dish! This came out of a night when I had a salmon filet that needed to get eaten. I tweeted that I had salmon, a sweet potato and an avocado. Out of that the tweeters had given me several suggestions that wound up creating this wonderful dish. Pretty healthy too!

4-6 oz salmon filet

1 sweet potato

olive oil

salt and pepper

Crumbled Feta

1 jalapeno

Strawberries

Avocado

Cucumber

Red Onion

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash sweet potato and dice into cubes.

Drizzle Sweet potato chunks with olive oil, salt, pepper and bake for 30-35 min.

While the sweet potatoes are baking, start making the salsa since the salmon does not need as long to cook.

Seed and chop jalapeno (I used a red jalapeno fresh from my boss’ garden!) Dice 3-4 strawberries, ½ an avocado, ¼ a large cucumber and red onion (to your taste). Combine these with the crumbled feta.

Put the salmon in the oven when the potatoes are at 20-25 min. Bake salmon for 10 min and everything will come out of the oven at that time.

Plate salmon and sweet potatoes and garnish with the salsa. Yum, yum, yum.

Grilled Peaches with Prosciutto and Mozzarella

All summer I have been seeing different takes on grilled fruit. Yum! And there’s nothing I love more than a hearty fork and knife salad…so here goes!

Grilled Peaches with Prosciutto and Mozzarella

1-2 peaches (not too soft)

¼ lb prosciutto very thinly sliced

½ lb fresh mozzarella

Arugula

Fresh lemon

Olive oil

Balsamic Vinegar

Salt and Pepper (I like to use kosher salt)

1) Wash and slice peaches into eighths. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

2) Slice ½ inch thick pieces of mozzarella and have it ready when the peaches come off the grill.

3) Heat grill to about 350 degrees.  Grill peaches for about 2min on each side. (The timing may vary grill to grill but long enough to get grill marks on each side)

4) Place mozzarella slices on peaches while still hot.

5) When peaches are cool enough to touch, wrap peaches and mozzarella with prosciutto.

6) Place prosciutto wrapped peaches on bed of arugula. Drizzle with fresh squeezed lemon, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

Voila! A perfect summer salad! These are also great sans arugula as an appetizer.