Saturday, March 29, 2014

Lighter Spaghetti Carbonara

One of my favorite Italian dishes is spaghetti carbonara, which is probably pretty obvious if you know me; I have a serious weakness/obsession for anything with bacon and egg yolk.  The problem with my love of this dish is it can average well over 500 calories per serving, depending how it's made.  So I searched for a lighter carbonara recipe and found this one from Cooking Light.

I used 2 pieces of bacon instead of the pancetta and added some peas (apparently taboo to serious carbonara aficionados, but I think it's delicious).  The recipe calls for linguine, but I had whole wheat spaghetti so I used that.  It turned out really well.  The key is definitely adding the egg and continuing to cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes.  It makes a beautiful creamy sauce.  Such a comforting dinner on this dreary, rainy day.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Creamy Pumpkin Gnocchi Soup

Well we had another "snowpocalypse" this week.  The DC area is absolutely crazy about shutting things down when there is a projected snow storm.  So when it's cold and snowy out, I can't think of anything more perfect than a bowl of delicious, hot, creamy soup.

I've really been wanting to try this Creamy Chicken and Pumpkin Gnocchi Soup from Skinny Fork, so I figured this was the perfect time.  Plus I am a huge gnocchi fanatic and I have been wanting to make my own for a while.

The gnocchi did take a while to make, maybe about an hour.  The hardest part was rolling everything out, and went much smoother once I got into a rhythm.  I did not make the little fork indentations, I was getting too impatient and I wasn't making it for company.

I cooked the gnocchi in a few batches since I was using a smaller pot (the big pot was for the soup!).  And I got to put my potato masher to good use again to scoop these guys out.  I like to get creative with my kitchen utensils.

The recipe only uses half of the pumpkin gnocchi, so I laid the other half out on a baking sheet (before cooking) and froze them until they were solid.  After they were completely frozen, I put them in a ziploc freezer bag.  I plan on using them later this week, which means I really made 2 dinners in one tonight.  Multitasking!

This soup was delicious and it totally hit the spot.  And, bonus, it reheated well the next day!

February Books

I was worried I wouldn't get through 2 books this month because the Olympics completely took over my evenings.  Actually more like took over the first 2 weeks of February.  I ended up reading 3 books, but the last 2 were very quick reads.  I'm just happy I still met my goal even with all my figure skating and slopestyle watching.

1. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

My sister recommended this one to me.  It was a fairly quick read, and the chapters were short which I always makes it easier for me to sneak a few chapters in at night.  It's a historical fiction novel about World War II in France- the events are real, but the characters are not.  Apparently there is a movie made in 2011 (in French), so I'll have to check that out as well.

2. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

This is more of a teen book, but I still found it enjoyable.  I got sucked in to the book and read it in about two days.  It's a book about a short-lived high school romance between Min & Ed and how their relationship went wrong, while reliving all the highlights.  The illustrations that were incorporated were really cool and made the book come to life.

3. Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll 

I've been wanting to read this book forever.  It is very short.  While I did enjoy the non-sensicalness (is that a word?) of the book, I found Alice's character to be a little irritating.  But I am glad I read it nonetheless.

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 :)