Thursday, April 28, 2011

OBG Salmon

O to the B to the G Salmon! Oh yeah! This was is a "winner winner (not a chicken dinner though)"! Here's the breakout, yo...
O is for Orange
B is for Balsamic
G is for Garlic

Can a got a "wha, what"? Okay...fine...I'll chill (just a wee bit). As you may already tell, I liked this recipe. So much, in fact, I will make again and have already passed it along to a fellow fish-lover.

Well, I have been slackin' in the cooking department since we have been out of town visiting my in-laws and busy with other stuff. But the time came that I was wanting something different from what I had been having that was healthy and yum.

So, I splurged and bought some awesome fresh salmon at our local Kroger (with my coupon..heck, yes, I do coupon!). Hmmm...what to go with? Decided on two of my favorite veggies, Sweet Potatoes and Asparagus. Also, the hubby likes the hollandaise with his salmon, generally. So, I totally cheat and buy the package kind. I need to make it from scratch one day, I am sure it is waaaaay better, but until then...package works.

I went on the hunt for a good salmon recipe. I narrowed it down to two choices and let the hubby pick (might save the other for a later date). He picked the Rosemary Balsamic Salmon. So, into the kitchen I went. Well, I began exactly following the recipe, being careful to get everything according to the directions, and ....NOT! What are you thinking?? Of course, I changed it. ha ha. BUT I'd like to think it is for the better. So, I'll stick with mine. A happy little recipe tweek that turned into a wonderful semi-creation.

The flavor breakdown: Hard to describe. I was afraid the vinegar would make it too tart, but not so! The sweetness of the OJ balanced the tartness of the vinegar wonderfully. Plus, add in the hint of rosemary and the awesomeness of garlic and...voila! It was a great combination. This did not have a "heavy" or overwhelming flavor, just perfectly balanced. There was not "one" dominating taste, just..well, very pleasant. Don't know how else to describe. Guess you'll just have to try it for yourself. (Yes, that's a challenge).

For the sides:
1) I simply made sweet potatoes the good ol' fashioned way - wrapped in foil and baked in the oven (served mine with cinnamon).
2) As for the asparagus, I seasoned with fresh garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Then, I roasted in a 400 degree oven for about 15 min (stinkin' yum...I think I have garlic in my pores, now).

Now to the salmon (my version)...
Ingredients for Marinade:
1/4 cup Juice of an Orange
2-3 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar
2 cloves fresh Garlic, minced
1 tsp dried rosemary leaves (not the powder, if you use powder, I'd probably use about 1/2 tsp)
1/2 Tbs Olive Oil (extra-virgin for me)
Salt and Pepper

1) Combine all ingredients. Marinade in fridge, covered, for at least 30 minutes.
2) Bake in oven at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork (wish I had a grill for this!)
3) Serve and yum!

P.S. The hollandaise, if choose to make, is drizzled (or in the husband's case-poured), over the asparagus and fish. Really recommend it, but so not good for you. It's basically egg yolks and butter and milk.

Doesn't it look so yummy?
Nom. Nom. Nom.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

BBQ Chicken Pizza on Honey Wheat

Well, this one came about by the need to use up some Rotisserie Chicken given to use by Granny. Upon our last visit home, she had given us A LOT of leftover rotisserie chicken. Well, it was a lot for two people. In the beginning, Aaron may himself chicken caesar salads and I made a buffalo chicken wrap and such. But after a couple of days, we were a little burnt out. So, I stuck the chicken in the freezer for a later time.

The later time came. I had been thinking of converting the chicken into bbq sandwiches, but decided on pizza instead. FYI I really really love Mr. Gatti's BBQ Chicken Pizza. This wasn't Gatti's but it still was good, nonetheless.

Now, I do not have the best experience with recipes that require yeast-Most of the time, they do not turn out just so. Trust me, I check my water temp., but maybe I over-knead? Who knows...bread-making is a challenge I hope to eventually master. But, I found a very quick and healthy pizza dough recipe I thought I'd try. It is a honey wheat crust which I thought would complement bbq chicken very well. Did I mention is was healthy?

I mixed up my dough and noticed it was quit a wet dough....not fluffy. Odd. But, this is made using whole wheat flour, which is denser than all purpose flour, so, I added more flour when I kneaded a bit. Ready for baking. Well, the baker is then suppose to pre-bake the dough for about 10 minutes before putting on the toppings. Well, silly ol' me put on the bbq sauce THEN remembered to prebake. So, it was prebaked with the bbq sauce on. Not ruined, but the crust was not exact.

I then added my toppings and baked longer. I had to end up baking the pizza until browned a bit much in order to correct my pre-baking misstep. Oh, well, accidents happen. It's all a part of learning about cooking, in my opinion. It still tasted good (just not perfecto, as I desire)!

At first bite, I was not sure if I was going to like it. But this pizza had that sort characteristic that, the more I ate it, the more I liked it. The hubby agreed on this. Something about this, we both really liked. I think it was the combination of flavors and textures: the slightly sweet yet hearty and dense whole wheat crust mixed with the sweet, smooth barbecue sauce, plus the zip and crunch of the onion, addition of the "goo" (cheese), and the yumminess of the rotisserie chicken.  Need I say more?

So, next time, I'll work on perfecting a crust, (or just buy one - yes, sometimes I do choose the easier option) and add more cheese. Besides that...yum!

P.S. You can totally buy your own pre-made crust and use the bbq chicken toppings listed below. Sometimes convenience wins!

Whole Wheat and Honey Pizza Dough
1 (.25 oz) package of dry active yeast
1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 Tbs honey
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ (I used milled flax seed instead)
1 tsp salt

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2) Combine dry active yeast and warm water in bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes until creamy-looking.
3) In a separate bowl, combine whole wheat flour, wheat germ/flax seed, and salt.
4) Make a "well" in the flour mixture. Pour the honey and yeast mix into the "well".
5)Stir slightly until combined. Let set in warm place for about 10 minutes (dough should rise some).
6) Roll out on lightly floured pizza pan. 
7) Prick holes in dough using a fork.
8) Bake for 10 min. Remove from oven. 

BBQ Chicken Pizza
1 1/2 cups rotisserie chicken, pulled/shredded
1 1/2 cups mozzerella cheese (or any other kind you prefer)
3/4 cup red onion, chopped finely
1 cup bbq sauce (Sweet Baby Ray's-the BEST bbq sauce)

1) Pour and spread bbq sauce evenly on pizza.
2) Top evenly with cheese, onion, and chicken (I had combined my chicken with a couple of Tbs of chicken for extra flavor). 
3) Bake for about 10 min or until lightly browned. Cut and serve. Yum!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mamma Mia Manicotti!

Ha ha. That's what I'll call it, at least. However, the "real" name was Meat-Filled Manicotti. Boooring! Especially when it is super yummy! This was  "new" recipe for me. Well, sort of. The ingredients are pretty much the same as any Italian, baked dish, however, I had never actually made wondrous version.

So, I know. No picture! I have to get my butt in gear! Por favor, forgive! My batteries were dead and my tummy was rumbling. Priorities, people!

The hubby and I do not eat a lot of pasta in general (or rice either-we are more of bean and 'tater people) but I have a want for it more than he. As such, whenever I have a craving for Italian fare, I often partake of the freezer sort. So, it is a rare occasion I actually cook Italian. Alas, I had a craving and a new challenge to take on!

Well, dinner was on the agenda, but I really wanted to do some yard work after I arrived home from the office. Now, I had a dilemma. Manicotti is not a "throw together" dish in that it takes time to assemble. I knew that if I made the dish when I got home, I wouldn't get to do my yard work (will post pics of the pretty flower later, maybe). What to do, what to do....I decided I would take a "rest day" from the gym this a.m. and prep my Mamma Mia Manicotti. Good thing I did. This sucker took me like 50 minutes to, like lasagna, the dish takes about another 45 minutes in the oven. I would have been a starvin' marvin'! But this was sooooooo worth it. Really. Really. Good.

Pros: 1) A good "make ahead" dish
           2) Hearty and filling
           3)a "safe" dish that almost all will like
           4) Stinkin' yummy!
Cons: 1) A little time consuming (that's all I have on the negative)

So, I may or may not have over-cooked it a tad....Hey! I was outside gardening (and my flower are so pretty and I can't wait for my tomato plants to grow!!!!)! No worries, it wasn't too brown...just more than we would have liked. I will also add more herbs to the meat, which I will include in the recipe below. Here's the recipe (Feel free to Google "manicotti" if you are unsure of what it looks like). FYI, this makes quite a 6-7 servings. Yep...we totally had leftovers! Sweet!

Meat Mixture
1 lb Ground Beef (I used 93% lean)
2 oz of Italian Sausage
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 Tbs Italian Seasoning
Salt & Pepper, to taste

1) 1 1/2 cups Ricotta or Cottage Cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
2 Egg Whites
1/2  Tbs dried Oregeno
1 Tbs Italian Seasoning
1 cup Mozzarella, shredded

1 (32 oz) jar of Pasta Sauce (Prego for moi)
1 pkg of Manicotti shells (14 in a package)
1 cup Mozzarella, shredded

1) In a boiling pot of water, cook manicotti until about halfway cooked (cooking halfway well help stuffing them). Drain. Let cool.
2) Brown both meats in skillet. Drain. Set aside to cool.
3) In a bowl, combine all ingredients of cheese mixture. Once combined, stir in cooled meat mixture. Set aside.
4) Pour about 1/2 cup of pasta sauce in bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish.
5) Place meat and cheese mixture in a sandwich baggie. Snip off one of corners of the baggie using scissors. Pipe the meat/cheese mixture into the manicotti.. Place in the casserole dish.
6) Continue until all manicotti are filled.
7) Pour remaining pasta sauce over manicotti.
8) Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
9) Bake on 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Serve and yum!

Monday, April 11, 2011

MM's Chicken & Spinach Enchiladas

No...NOT M & M's...Geez, get your mind out of the chocolate! MM's means "Maxie's Mom's". One fine day, I arrived at work and behold a FREE of pan of enchiladas. Yes, FREE. Mind you, enchiladas are another food I loooovvvve. I want to hug them, squeeze them, kiss them...okay...really, I just want to EAT them. Well,  Maxie's mom is a phenomenal cook (like, everything I have ever tasted she has made is perfect). Now, enchiladas are not typically a type of food her mom prefers (she does "country" cooking), but Yippee! for me...Maxie's Mom had a craving for some enchiladas. Well, Maxie's mom had made a whole pan for only two people. Luckily, we were blessed to partake of the extras.

Yes, they were slammin' and jammin'!!!!  Meaning, they were stinkin' YUMMY! Well, those darn enchiladas haunted my cravings, so, I had Maxie get the recipe for me. Well, since Maxie's mom has been cooking for a long time, she doesn't really measure (a trait of a "real" cook, in my opinion). So, basically, I got a list of ingredients. Of course, my enchiladas were not as good as her mom's and I changed it a wee bit -like I didn't roast a whole chicken, just chicken breasts. I know, *sigh* the whole chicken would have been tastier, but they were still really good! And, mine ended up a littler "saucier" than MMs'.

I had been searching for a "tweek" to my current enchiladas recipe-which have earned a slot in my dinner rotation. These were almost the same as the one I had been using, only "amped" up, which it what I was looking for.

One more picture...
Now, the recipe:

1 whole chicken, cooked and shredded (I used chicken breasts, but trust me, the whole chicken is better!)
1 jar of salsa
4 oz (lowfat) cream cheese
1 large can of red enchilada sauce
1/2-3/4 bunch of fresh spinach, chopped
8-10 tortillas (I used Tumaro's Gourmet Tortillas-5g net carbs, 6g protein, 7g fiber, 60 cal="healthy" tortilla)
1/2 cup-1 cup shredded cheese

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2)In a saucepan on medium heat, combine salsa, cream cheese, spinach, and 1/2 can of enchiladas sauce. 
3) Stir until cream cheese has melted and spinach is wilted/cooked
4) Toss in cooked, shredded chicken. Stir to combine
5) Pour 1/4 can of enchilada sauce in bottom of a 9x13 pan (prevents the enchiladas from sticking!)
6) Fill tortillas with chicken mixture. Roll up. Place seam-side down in the dish. 
7) Once all tortillas are filled, Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas.Sprinkle with cheese.
8) Bake 15-20 min or until warm and bubbly. Serve and yum!

Funny tid-bit, which I choose to express in a dialog below: 
I was a little concerned about the spinach and the husband. Green vegetable + somewhat picky meat eater = questionable success in terms of "hubby standards". BUT, after we were done,
Aaron said, "Well, that confirms my suspicion." 
"Of what?," I uttered.
"That just about anything tastes good in an enchilada." 
To which I replied, "Nuh uh, you don't like rice that much in an enchilada (I may or may not have sort of smugly mentioned)".
 "Well, That's because it's rice," he retorted.
"And, you don't like corn either in them," I replied (because I had totally tried that one before)
"True, but that's because it's crunchy," he said.
Yeah, bottom line is...he liked dang spinach in the enchilada! ha ha!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Teriyaki Tuna Steaks

This was my first attempt at making tuna steaks. I had planned on buying trout, but then the whim hit me to buy tuna steaks. Well, at first, all I seen at the store was frozen for like $10 for 2 steaks. Wha?? That's crazy! Well, I lucked out and found 2 steaks marked for quick sale! So, into my cart they went.

Now, I like tuna. Some of my favorite sushi has tuna and I like tuna salad sandwiches. I had always seen tuna steaks out and about but had only had one tuna steak sandwich outside of the good ol' canned sort. Well, I think I'll generally stick to the canned sort. I guess, with these, I just expected more. I always thought of tuna steaks has a "gourmet-ish" kind of entree...guess it was the high price and hoity-toity fancy-smansh surrounding the idea of the tuna steak.  I was a bit disappointed. It tasted just like the canned type, but a little dryer. Mind you, the dryness was due to the fact that tuna steaks are "ideally" to be served rare to medium-rare and I cooked ours about medium well, but really! Why would I pay a hefty price when the canned stuff is sooo much cheaper???? Guess I really shouldn't be disappointed that canned tuna taste just like tuna steaks! Ha ha!

Okay, this wasn't bad, but I won't be going out and buying tuna steaks, especially when they are in the higher price range.  I think the husband liked these better than me. I think it is kind of a personal thing. If you really  like tuna, hey, these might be just for you. They certainly look pretty :). Here's the  recipe, if you're feeling froggy. Of course, this is my version. You know, I had to tweek. Oh, FYI, I definitely recommend doubling the marinade recipe below.

1 Tbs low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbs brown sugar
1/2 small can of pineapple, use only about 1-2 Tbs of juice & drain the rest
 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper 
1 lb tuna steaks

1) Combine all ingredients. Marinate for at least 10 minutes.
2) Preheat grill (I only have an indoor grill)
3) Grill steaks until cooked through as desired. Serve.

These cool quite quickly, so, you would want to serve them close to when they finish cooking.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Oh, How I Love Thee, Asparagus.

I know, the first thing you see when you look at this pictures is 'da burger. I challenge you, look beyooond 'da burger...oooooh. See that green stuff with a hint of red? Yeah that. Not the hunk of meat on a bun. That other stuff is asparagus with tomato. And, might I say, Yuuummmmmyyyyy! But, yes, the burger was good - although I still need to perfect that cooking process. Any ideas?

As for the asparagus, 'twas mostly a happy little accident/spur of the moment recipe. I had not planned on making this deliciousness. But, I had just come home from my long perils of roaming to and fro, searching and scrounging, and laboriously selecting and organizing...Or, more simply, grocery shopping. Hey! Cut me some slack! So what if I like to grocery shop alone most of the time to better "get in the zone" and focus. Plus,  I was coupon-ing (thus, more focus needed)). Yeah, after my grocery quest, I was hungry for a late dinner. I had been thinking about a burger all day. I had thought I would stop at a drive-thru, but decided to make my own since I had picked up the hubby some frozen hamburger patties for a later date. As I was shopping, I notice fresh asparagus was on sale! Yippee! I really love asparagus! Like, a lot. Probably second to sugar snap peas, which are my numero uno. Well, as I was preparing my burger, I thought to myself that asparagus would be super yum and be something healthy to eat along with the help balance it all out, ya know? I think it was rationalization for the burger...ha!

Well, I thought I would saute the 'sparagus in light butter. Then, I thought, what the heck, I'll through the ends of my roma tomato I had slice for the burger in with the asparagus. Then, I was like, well, hey, people are always putting parmesan on asparagus. So, that when in the pan, too. Well, if I had known it was going to be so tasty, I would have probably taken a better picture! But, I had starting scarfing, *clear throat*, I mean eating the asparagus, and well.......It's in my belly. Bottom line.

This recipe is another easy one! A keeper for me and it was fast-ready in about 7 minutes, depending on how well done you prefer your asparagus. Here's the recipe.

Sauteed Asparagus with Tomato and Parmesan

1 bunch fresh asparagus (about 1 lb)
1 roma tomato. chopped
3/4 Tbs parmasan cheese, shredded
1/2-1 Tbs butter (again, I used light butter)
Salt & Pepper

1) Rinse asparagus to clean. Pat dry. 
2) Cut or break off the very ends of the asparagus (they tend to be slightly hard if you don't cut them off) and dispose of ends.
3) Melt butter in skillet. Season asparagus with salt & pepper. Saute asparagus in skillet until desired doneness (it will turn bright green (cooked but still a little crunchy) and then darken and get softer the longer it cooks). Serving the asparagus when it is bright green is the "proper" way to cook asparagus, according to chefs, but do it how you like it!
4) When asparagus is almost done, toss in chopped roma tomato. Cook 1-2 minutes longer.
4) Turn off heat. Sprinkle with parmesan, Toss & Serve warm. Yum!

Friday, April 1, 2011

No Recipe....Just a Funny Carrot

No, this is NOT an April Fool's Joke! It's for real!
No recipe right now...I've been too busy!! Grr. Busy-ness is interfering with my cooking aspirations! Darn priorities! Oh, the woes of being more responsible *sigh*. No worries though, I plan to do plenty of cooking in the near future. Yee haw! Oh, let me tell you...I have plans...Muaaahh. Okay. Sorry. Got a little excited.

Back to the carrot.
Totally picked up a bag of carrots the other day at Kroger's ('cause they are one of my favorite munching snacks!) and got this weird-looking fella in the bunch. I know sometimes carrots look funnier than others, but this one is particularly odd. Oh well, I'm still going to eat it. Yum!

I know, who in their right mind posts a picture of a carrot??? Well, me of course. Thought we all might use a little tiny laugh. Hope all has a happy day!