Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Shrimp and Couscous

I am so excited about this post because that means I actually got to make (and eat) this recipe.  You see, last fall I was planning recipes with shrimp about once a week... and then my sister told me she isn't really a fan of shrimp.  Um, what?  I had no idea.  So I haven't made shrimp for quite a while.  When I suggested it last week she was open to trying it again, so I decided on a simple broiled shrimp and couscous meal.

Here's what you'll need for 2 servings:
12 ounces frozen raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tbsp + 1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoons of salt
3/4 cup couscous
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup golden raisins 

1. Preheat the oven to broil.  Place the couscous in a bowl and add 1 teaspoon of olive oil, then mix until the couscous is coated.  Pour the hot water over the couscous and cover with plastic wrap.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Once cooked, stir in the golden raisins.  

2. Put the frozen shrimp in a colander and run under cold water until thawed.  I also pulled the tails off, but this is optional.  Place the shrimp in a bowl.  Add the olive oil, paprika, and salt and mix until the shrimp are well coated.  Place the shrimp in a single layer on a baking sheet covered with foil.  Broil for about 5 minutes, or until the shrimp are cooked through.

Shrimp is so quick and pairing it with couscous makes this a super fast meal, perfect to make after working all day.  And the verdict from my sister...she liked it!  This means shrimp goes on the weekly menu more often :)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Healthier Eggs Benedict

I can't believe how fast this weekend flew by!  One of my sisters visited this past weekend and we had a total blast.  When I was planning meals for the week, I knew I wanted to make something yummy for her last breakfast here.  I was looking through my Pretty Delicious cookbook by Candice Kumai and I saw a recipe for healthier eggs benedict.  It seemed like the perfect way to use up other groceries I was buying, like eggs and english muffins.  Plus, who doesn't love eggs benedict?!  I used Candice's recipe as inspiration for a healthier sauce and made my own lightened up version of traditional eggs benedict.

Here's what you'll need for 2 servings:
1 container Chobani nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup light mayonnaise (I like Kraft mayo with olive oil)
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey
2 Ezekial Sprouted Grain English Muffins
4 Eggs 
4 Slices Ham (I used Hormel Natural Choice)

1.  In a small saucepan, whisk together the Greek yogurt, mayo, mustard, and honey.  Heat over medium heat for about 2 minutes until warm, stirring frequently.  Then decrease the heat to low and stir occasionally until ready to serve.

2. Defrost the english muffins for about 30 seconds in the microwave.  Cut in half and toast until crispy.

3. Poach the eggs: Fill a small pot halfway with water and bring to a gentle simmer. Crack an egg in a small bowl and slowly pour into the water. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Cook the eggs until the whites are set, about 3 to 5 minutes. 

4. While you poach the eggs, heat the ham slices in the microwave for about 20 seconds.  Layer one slice of ham on each english muffin half.

5. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon.  Or, if you are like me and don't have a slotted spoon, feel free to use a potato masher.  :)   Place one egg on each english muffin half.  Top with a little sauce and enjoy! 

Okay, I was so hungry and excited to eat this breakfast that I completely spaced and forgot to take picture of the finished product.  But I think this picture vouches for the deliciousness.  You can see I practically licked my plate clean! 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Rainbow Chicken

Sometimes it's hard for me to figure out how to eat more vegetables in the day.  I don't mind vegetables for the most part, but I don't typically think of them being the main component of a meal.  I'm trying to change my mindset on that, and this recipe for Rainbow Chicken from Kitchen Parade definitely helps.

I did, of course, make a few changes to the recipe.  I have made this before and I knew I wanted to have a little more spice rub for the veggies, so I doubled the ingredients.  Instead of using sweet potato, I used butternut squash.  When I got home I realized I forgot to buy carrots, which ended up being okay because there was tons of butternut squash.  I also used two zucchini because they were so tiny.  And lastly, I used 4 chicken breasts instead of thighs.  

The spice rub totally makes this dish and it fills the house with an amazing aroma while it's cooking.

I cooked this covered with foil for 50 minutes and without the lemons.  The first time I used the lemons, but every other bite ended up being sour.  Next time I will cut the potatoes and squash smaller to make sure they get a little more tender. 

Check out those beautiful veggies! Yum!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Breakfast For Dinner!

I love breakfast in all forms.  Eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, waffles, hashbrowns...I think you get the point.  Last week I couldn't think of anything quick to have for dinner over the weekend.  Then I realized I had some bacon and eggs that needed to be made, and it hit me!  Breakfast for dinner!  Sometimes I think having breakfast at dinner time is better than eating it in the morning because I can sit down and enjoy it a little more.

To go with my eggs and bacon, I decided to make my all time favorite pancake recipe: Banana Oatmeal Pancakes from Colorful Palate.  I have always had trouble with cooking pancakes, they never seem to get bubbly enough on top before starting to overcook on the bottom.  Then I met this recipe and everything changed.  These pancakes are fluffy and delicious and I have no trouble cooking them perfectly every time.  I think it has to do with the batter being a little thinner than other pancake recipes I have tried.

Cooking over easy eggs always used to intimidate me.  Then I learned an awesome trick from my dad.  First, crack the eggs and put them into a hot pan that has a lid.  Let the bottoms cook a little, then add a tiny bit of water to the pan and cover with a lid.  The water creates steam, which is trapped by the lid, and that steam cooks the top of the eggs.  No flipping necessary! 

I eat the pancakes with a little drizzle of agave or honey.  This meal may have to go into regular rotation :)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Spaghetti Squash with Pesto

Spaghetti squash is definitely my favorite vegetable.  I can't get enough; it's on my menu every week in some form.  Even though it doesn't taste like pasta, it acts as a perfect substitute for pasta sauce.  I really don't even miss pasta dishes anymore. 

This week I decided to try something new with my beloved veggie.  I saw this recipe from Pinch and Swirl on Pinterest and pinned it solely for that gorgeous green pesto.  I made the recipe using pine nuts instead of walnuts, just because that's how I've always made pesto.

The recipe calls for 1/3 cup of olive oil, but I only ended up using about 3.5 to 4 tablespoons.

The best part about pesto is a little bit goes a long way.  It really spread out through the massive amount of squash we had.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Lettuce Wraps & Coconut Rice

Have you ever skimmed a recipe and decided to make it for dinner, only to realize you didn't read it close enough which sort of ruins your brilliant plans? Well that happened to me today.  I planned to make lettuce wraps for dinner and looked up recipes for a side dish.  I found this Coconut Brown Rice recipe from Skinny Taste that looked perfect, so I added it to the menu.  I went to start dinner around 8, figuring everything would be ready around 8:30 when my sister got home from class.  Then I actually read the recipe and realized the rice was going to take close to an hour.  Whaaaat!  Obviously I don't make rice very often.  Needless to say, we didn't eat until like 9:30.  Oh well, this meal was worth it!

I made Sriracha Beef Lettuce Wraps from Kayln's Kitchen.  This part of the meal came together super fast.  The wraps were the perfect amount of spicy and I loved the flavor from the cilantro.  I served them with the coconut rice, which came out beautifully, and some steamed edamame.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Healthier Super Bowl Snacks

Okay confession: I am really only watching the Super Bowl for the commercials.  And the half-time show.  But food is still a necessary part of that and there's a bunch of healthy appetizer recipes I've been wanting to try so I thought this was the perfect occasion.

Here's what was on the menu:

Spinach Dip from Skinny Taste in phyllo cups

While this was my brainchild, my sister made these from start to finish.  First she made the phyllo cups.  She layered 4 sheets of phyllo dough (about 8x8 sheets) on a plate and brushed some butter between each layer.  Then she cut that into fourths and pressed them into greased muffin tins and repeated to make 12 phyllo cups.  They baked at 375 degrees for about 6 minutes (we pulled them out when they were browned).   

Then she made the spinach dip and baked it in a 9x9 pan.  Our original thought was to cook the dip in the phyllo cups but after we saw how quickly they browned we were worried about burning them.  So we baked the dip, then divided it into the cups afterwards.  It worked out perfectly.  And we cut out a lot of extra calories by serving the dip in cups instead of using chips.

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bites from Nature Box

These were amazing.  I don't have a mini muffin tin, so I shaped these into little balls and put them on a baking sheet lined with foil.

I didn't think they were going to get crunchy on the outside but they did.  The quinoa kept us full, so it was more like a meal than mindless munching on snacks.  These little bites had the flavor of buffalo chicken dip, but minus a lot of cheese and the chips or crackers needed for a dip. 

They definitely have a little kick so the blue cheese dipping sauce is a must!

Baked Blooming Onion

I sort of combined two recipes to make this.  Mostly I followed this recipe from Gimme Some Oven.  She gives really great directions on how to cut the onion.

To coat the onion I used 2 egg whites and for the breadcrumb coating I used 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs, 1/2 tbsp garlic powder, and 1/2 tbsp paprika.

When I put the onion on a baking sheet it kept leaning to one side.  So I put it in a large oven safe bowl instead.  I baked it according to the recipe, but when we tried it the onion was still pretty crunchy.  So I put it back in the oven for about 15 more minutes.  The onion petals were much softer after the extra cook time.

The dipping sauce I made was from this recipe.  I left out the horseradish, and the dip was perfect with the onion.

Baked Mozzarella Sticks from Skinny Taste

We only made 8 mozzarella sticks (instead of the full 24) because we didn't want to be tempted to eat any more.  They were delicious but they did become un-melty pretty quickly, so next time we will make sure to eat these first.

Here's our table with all the goodies:

Saturday, February 1, 2014

January Books

So far I've kept up with my New Year's Resolutions!  I thought I'd do a post about the books I read this month.  My goal was 2 per month, and I read 3 in January!

This month I read:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I've been wanting to read this book for a while but I was on the hold list at the library for like 3 months.  That's what I get for waiting to read a book until it's a movie.  The Book Thief is narrated by death, so it gives a very interesting perspective.  I loved it.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

This book is pretty short and I read it in a day.  I'm glad I finally got it crossed off my list.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

This book came highly recommended to me by my sister.  She is obsessed with John Green and I really enjoyed The Fault In Our Stars, so I thought I'd give this book a read.  I was definitely not disappointed.  Oh, the feels.

I haven't decided on my February books yet, I still have to look at my to-read list.  I think one of my books will be a more classic novel.