Category Archives: Recipes

Garlic and Lemon Grilled Shrimp

I finally conquered shrimp on the grill.

It’s not like it was too hard. I learned my lesson from my last foray and marinated the shrimp ahead of time. All it took was a few ingredients, an hour of marinating time, a few minutes on the grill and there was a delicious dinner to be had.

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Eric put his shrimp atop a salad, I had mine on the side. But they were delicious. A perfect, easy and quick dinner for those warm summer nights.

Garlic and Lemon Grilled Shrimp

1 cup olive oil
Juice from one lemon
1 glove of garlic, diced
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper

1) Mix all the ingredients together in a container. Place shrimp in mixture and place in the fridge for at least an hour.

2) Remove shrimp from marinade and place on skewers (we used metal ones, but bamboo ones will also work if they are soaked in water beforehand).

3) Preheat grill to about 500 degrees (or medium-high heat). Oil the grates a little. Place skewers on grill. Cook for about three minutes on both sides, or until the shrimp turn pink and begin to curl.

That time Eric cooked a three-course meal

Blog hijacked! I’m taking control of Katy’s blog to talk about a three-course meal I made (with her help) for Sunday dinner: Chicken francese, homemade mac and cheese, and a tomato and corn salad. Technically, there was a 4th course: Brownies! But I don’t think using Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Mix counts here. (Just a note about me, one of my favorite foods is chocolate so if I really did hijack this blog, it would look like Willy Wonka swooped in since every post would be of treats.)

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to cook something healthy and homemade at least once a week. Recently, I have made dishes like pasta salad with chopped cucumber, garbanzo beans, roasted red peppers and goat cheese and Mediterranean flat bread pizzas with hummus and fire roasted tomatoes — with Katy acting as my sous chef

These are step-ups from my single days when I was mastering the art of cooking spaghetti and frozen pizza. The three-course Sunday meal below is another small step for me, and one giant step for your taste buds (if you don’t know, Katy loves space-related things).

This meal is recommended for 3-4 people (or leftovers for 2 people), so it didn’t hurt that her mom joined us for dinner. She gave it rave reviews, as did we. It didn’t hurt that the wine you use for the chicken francese recipe can also be used to drink, too.

The first of two things I recommend (besides drinking the wine) is to make the salad before anything else and set in the fridge so the flavors soak together. The cold, crispness of the salad compliments the non-healthy creaminess of the mac & cheese. The other recommendation is to prepare/cook the chicken while the mac & cheese is in the oven. This is so both dishes come out hot and ready at the same time.

Thank you to my wife for letting me write this – and for letting me cook new things for her!

Here was the spread:

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The Chicken Francese recipe was via Rachel Ray. I followed it pretty closely, subbing in chicken tenderloins for the chicken cutlets since that is what we had on hand. The recipe also calls for the chicken to be served alongside pasta or bread, but we had enough carbs coming from one of the side dishes…

BAKED MACARONI AND CHEESE. We used this recipe, which was rated as one of Food Network’s Top 10 best recipes of 2013. Katy handled the majority of the prep for this, which included making a roux and then a bechamel. But It was worth the effort.

We figured we should have some sort of vegetable on the plate to counteract the pan-fried chicken and carb-filled mac and cheese. We had some tomatoes on hand and I thought we could whip up some sort of salad to go with it. So voila. This was what we came up with. We used frozen corn since, but this would be so much better with fresh corn on the grill come summetime.

Tomato and Corn Salad

3 vine ripened tomatoes, diced
1 cup corn (either frozen or off the cob)
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp. Penzey’s Sunny Paris Seasoning (this is really the key)
Salt and pepper

1) Heat one tsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the shallot and saute until translucent. Add the corn and cook for about five minutes.

2) Add the warm corn to a bowl with the diced tomatoes. Sprinkle on the Sunny Paris and the salt and pepper and mix together. Let cool in the fridge until ready to serve.

 

 

Pecan and Herb Crusted Tilapia

After a weekend filled with tacos and Cracker Barrel, I knew Sunday night was going to need a lightened up dinner. I had some tilapia already and knew I wanted to do some sort of pecan crusted tilapia. I took to the trust interwebs to find a recipe and they all seemed rather involved to me. Flour, breadcrumbs, eggs, frying. I just wanted a simple baked pecan crusted tilapia with a few ingredients. And this is what I came up with.

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The picture isn’t the best, but this was seriously delicious, I sauteed up some squash with herbs and served it along side some wild rice and it was a tasty, light meal.

PS Have you been to Penzey Spices? I used their Sunny Paris blend on the squash and it was so good. I think it is going to be super delicious on grilled veggies this summer.

Pecan and Herb Crusted Tilapia

3 tilapia filets (this recipe could work with any white fish)
3/4 cup pecans
1 tsp rosemary
1 clove garlic
2 tbls spicy or whole grain mustard
Salt and pepper

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. If possible, put a cooling rack on a cookie sheet to use for baking. This helps keep the pecan crust from getting soggy.

2) In a food processor or blender, mix together the pecans, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. The consistency should be a little coarser than bread crumbs, but not super chunky. The finer it is, the better it will adhere to the fish.

3) Brush each fish filet with the mustard on both sides and coat with the pecan mixture. Place on the cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the fish is cooked through.

Slow Cooker Red Wine Pot Roast

This is the second time I’ve posted a recipe involving red wine and the slow cooker. I guess I am drawn to certain flavors. Well, and wine.

The first one I am talking about is the red wine brisket I made back in September. Now while it was very delicious, this red wine pot roast was way, way better.

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I assume that is because chuck roast is a fattier piece of meat than brisket and hence that adds an extra layer of flavor. But this was just so moist and tender. The vegetables were cooked so perfectly and infused with the flavor of the wine, seasonings and meat. Mmm. I am definitely looking forward to having leftovers tonight.

Slow Cooker Red Wine Pot Roast

2-3 lbs chuck roast (I didn’t trim mine, but you can if you want)
1/2 lb baby carrots, whole
1 to 1 1/2 lbs red potatoes, cut in to chunks
1 large onion, cut in to wedges
1 cup of wine (I used Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 package of pot roast seasoning (or feel free to us whatever spices you want)

1) Preheat a skillet to medium high heat. Add a teaspoon of oil. Season the roast on both sides with salt and pepper. Brown the roast on both sides for about 3 to 4 minutes.

2) Place the roast in bottom of the slow cooker and top with the chopped veggies. Mix the wine and seasonings together and pour over the meat and veggies.

3) Cooking on low for 8 hours or high for 4. The meat should be falling apart when finished and the veggies should be fork tender.

Salt and Vinegar Sweet Potato Chips

Oh, hey. How are you? Sorry I totally forgot to post on Monday. The day just got away from me and to be honest, I didn’t have anything of note to share. But today is not the case. I have a delicious recipe for an easy, and healthy snack.

Who doesn’t love sweet potatoes? All potatoes really. Give me a potato and I’ll probably eat it, regardless of how it is prepared — fried, roasted, au gratin, mashed. I had a sweet potato on hand yesterday so I decided to make some homemade sweet potato chips. I was hankering for some salt and vinegar chips (my personal fave) and knew that going and buying a bag of chips would end poorly (i.e. I’d eat the whole thing) so I figured, why not make a healthier option of my own?

I don’t trust our oven. It’s acted weird ever since we moved in. If we owned and didn’t rent, we could have bought a new one by now, but alas, we don’t have that option. It’s really finicky above 350 degrees and I knew chips could require heat higher than that so I improvised. Hello, microwave chips.

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Maybe it’s blasphemous to use a microwave, but it works incredibly well. And it took a fraction of the time an oven would.

I used salt and vinegar as my toppings, but you really could use whatever you want. Cinnamon and sugar would be a nice addition for a sweet treat. Herbs de Provence or something similar would also be tasty. The options are endless once you get the technique down.

Salt and vinegar sweet potato chips

1/2 large sweet potato (or more depending on how many chips you want)
Cooking spray (I used Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil Cooking Spray)
Toppings (I used white wine vinegar and salt)

1) Cut sweet potato in to 1/8 inch thick slices. The best tool for this is a mandolin, I find.

2) Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a microwave safe plate. Oil the parchment and set the potato slices on the plate. (Note: If you are using spices (like herbs de Provence, rosemary, etc) this is when you’d sprinkle them on. If you are wanting salt and vinegar like me, wait until after the chips are cooked.) Depending on how many slices you have, you might need to do two batches.

3) Cook the sweet potato in the microwave for 4 1/2 to 5 minutes at 90 percent. The chips will be considered done when they have shriveled up a bit yet are still orange in color.  If they are beginning to brown, they are a bit overdone. Once you are done microwaving them, open the microwave door and let them sit for a few minutes to crisp up.

4) Pour about a 1/2 tsp of vinegar in to a plastic bag along with a tsp of salt. Dump the cooked chips in and shake the bag around until you think the chips are coated. Eat immediately (I haven’t had any stick around long enough to see how they store…)

Crispy polenta with kale and tomato sauce

Polenta is one of my most favorite things in the entire world. It’s like Italian grits — a great vessel for everything from eggs to stews and veggies. Polenta can be cooked in a variety of ways. I like it soft and creamy, almost like a bowl of porridge. But these polenta tubes are much more convenient and allow you to whip up a meal in no time.

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I usually stock up when I go to Trader Joe’s, but I think you can find them at almost any grocery store. If for some reason you cannot and are feeling very ambitious, you could always cook up polenta the old fashioned way, form it in to a tube and let it cool down to reach the same effect. But that seems like way too much effort.

This recipe was inspired by one of my favorite frozen meals, Amy’s Light and Lean Roasted Polenta. I try not to eat those pre-packaged entrees too much, but sometimes, they are so darn convenient. This one makes for a great lunch, but I recreated it for dinner last week.

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It was delicious and oh so easy.

Crispy Polenta With Kale and Tomato Sauce

1/2 tube polenta, cut in to 1/3 inch slices
1/2 can crushed tomatoes (I go for the fire roasted variety or the basil and oregano)
1 clove garlic
1 cup kale
Olive oil

1) Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Coat the bottom of the pan in olive oil and allow it to heat up. Drop in the polenta slices and cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until they are browning just slightly.

2) While the polenta is on, heat another skillet over medium heat and add about a teaspoon of olive oil. Add in the kale and garlic and saute for a few minutes. The kale should be softened and the garlic fragrant. Add in the tomatoes and continue to cook until the whole mixture is headed through.

3) Remove the polenta rounds from the pan and pat off excess oil (this helps to keep the rounds nice and crispy). Put polenta on a plate and top with the kale and tomato mixture. Top with parmesan cheese if desired.

Crab cakes with roasted pepper and corn saute

If I had to choose one way to eat crabs, it would be a crab cake. After living in DC for six year, I have been to plenty of events where you crack your own crabs. While it is fun in theory, for me, it is usually hazardous. I would get to my second crab and end up drawing blood. I like when someone has already done the work for me and presents the delicious crab to me in a nice, tasty cake form.

We’ve never tried making our own crab cakes before. There were just too many great options available to us when we lived in Virginia (G&M Restaurant up near Baltimore was probably our favorite). Eric was really in the mood for crab last week so lo and behold we set out to make homemade crab cakes for the first time. And it was quite successful.

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They were so delicious. I prefer a crab cake where you really get to taste the crab and not a bunch of filler. These were pretty much simple, unadulterated crab cakes that ended up being pretty easy to make. We did not buy and crack our own crabs (ain’t nobody got time for that). Instead we bought jumbo lump crab meat at Costco (it was actually quite reasonable in price, so if you have a Costco near you, I’d check it out). It wasn’t as authentic as Eric might have wanted, but it was much less of a hassle.

Now let’s talk about the side dish. Eric loves the combination of corn and crab cakes so we knew that was going to be the base. I had some little baby bell peppers around so I figured why not roast them up and saute them together and voila. A great accompaniment to the crab cakes.

Crab cakes with roasted pepper and corn saute

For the crabcakes

16oz lump crab meat
3 tbls whole wheat breadcrumbs
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 egg beaten plus 1 egg white
1/4 cup mayo or Greek yogurt (Eric used mayo, I used the yogurt. There wasn’t much of a difference in taste, but if you are trying to cut calories, the Greek yogurt is a great option).
2 tsp Old Bay seasoning (or more to your taste)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2) Break crab meat up in to smaller chunks (depending on how you like it).  Combine all the ingredients together and mix.
3) Take 1/3 cup portions of the mixture and form it in to patties. Place on a baking sheet about 1 inch apart. If desire, sprinkle a little more Old Bay on stop before putting in the oven.
4) Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until the cakes are starting to turn a golden brown.

For the corn saute

10 to 15 mini bell peppers (or a few big ones)
1 package frozen corn (I think we used about 16 oz)
1 to 2 cloves garlic
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut peppers in half and lay cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes, rotating the cooking sheet 180 degrees halfway through. The edges of the peppers should be turning a little black. Once the peppers cool a little, chop in to small pieces.
2) Cook corn in microwave based on package directions.
3) Preheat a skillet over medium high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan. Add peppers, garlic and corn and saute for about 5 minutes. Serve alongside crab cakes.

Recap — and a recipe

I love when weekends revolved around food. Cooking and eating are two of my favorite activities, so needless to say when weekend events are food-centric, I’m a happy camper.

First up was a dinner party with some friends I’ve known for years. One thing I love about living in Atlanta again is getting to see people I went to high school with. It is always so much fun to reminisce and catch up, but also to talk about their lives now and what the future holds. We decided instead of the host making most of the food, everyone should bring a few dishes to share, sort of tapas style. We had quite the spread — and everything was delicious.

photo 1Now for descriptions, starting at the top and moving clockwise. Laura made this delicious pasta dish with pumpkin. You wouldn’t necessarily think of pumpkin as a pasta sauce as opposed to a pasta filling, but it was so good. And those brussels sprouts? I could have eaten the whole platter full. Elizabeth made these delicious dips — one with bacon and one with pineapple. The pineapple one was my favorite. She also made these cucumber cups filled with hummus and topped with tomatoes and cheese. I love tomatoes and cucumbers — and cheese of course — so these were little scrumptious bites.

As for what Eric and I brought, we made a berry slab pie with chocolate (if you haven’t ever heard of a slab pie, try it out. This was the recipe we used) and roast beef sliders with a variety of toppings. I just cooked the beef in the crock pot and then shredded it up, served it alongside pieces of French bread and three toppings — horseradish cream, caramelized onions and arugula pesto.

Let’s talk about this arugula pesto. I am now obsessed with arugula pesto. I used the leftovers as a spread of a turkey sandwich and I can only imagine how delicious it would be on pasta. And it couldn’t be simpler to make. The recipe is below.

Arugula Pesto
(This makes about 3/4 cup pesto)

3 cups of arugula
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or more to get the consistency you want)
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until blended. Continue to season with salt and pepper until you get the taste you desire. Use for a topping on sandwiches, salads, pastas, meats — the possibilities are endless. This kept in the fridge for about two days, and can easily be frozen for future use.

That was Saturday night. Sunday consistent of lunch and a lazy afternoon of football watching at my parents’ house, and then most importantly — a “Sherlock” watching party at our place Sunday night.

Of all of the Sherlock Holmes adaptations, the BBC one is my hands down favorite. Something about the chemistry between Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman is just so irresistible. We had two other couples over, I knew from the get go that I wanted to bake somethings special. Keeping with the British theme, I went with a shortbread recipes. And to make the cookies even more appropriate, I bought cookie cutters in the shapes of Holmes and Watson.

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How freaking cool is that? Best $10 I ever spent. Unfortunately, I think the recipe was too buttery for cutout cookies to work — and my oven jumped from 350 to 400 with no warning — so the cookies didn’t hold their shape. But Eric saved the day with a genius idea.

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Not what I had exactly planned, but still awesome — and delicious. They sort of look like “Sherlock” coins. Our friends ate them up and they were the perfect compliment to “The Empty Hearse.”

Turkey Sausage Stuffed Peppers

For the past four years, I thought Eric didn’t like stuffed peppers. Then last week, he requested them for dinner. This was my face.

But I was more than happy to oblige. I love stuffed peppers. I have a recipe I like that uses brown rice and veggies, but Eric insisted that some sort of meat needed to be involved. So I created these.

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Stuffed peppers never photograph well. But it sure was tasty.

Now just a note, I used turkey sausage that had been precooked in my homemade pasta sauce, but you could use any meat you want. Just plain ground turkey would also be good. Just add some extra seasonings.

Turkey Sausage Stuffed Peppers

2 red bell peppers, halved and cleaned out
2 links spicy Italian turkey sausage, cooked and crumbled
1 cup cooked white or brown rice
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Cheese for garnish, optional (I used goat cheese, Eric used parmesan)

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2) Mix the turkey sausage, rice, tomato sauce and seasonings together in a bowl. Spoon the filling in to the pepper halves.
3) Place filled peppers in a casserole dish. Pour chicken broth in to dish. Cover tightly with tin foil. Bake for 30 minutes or until pepper is tender. Top with cheese, if desired, and serve.

Mahi mahi with a kale and edamame salad

One thing I pride myself on is being able to look at the ingredients I have on hand and whip something up for dinner. This delicious mahi mahi came from one of those ingenious moments.

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Eric was eating leftover Thai the other night and I had to figure out something for myself. I saw the mahi mahi. I saw the kale. I saw the edamame. Boom.

Now I have a pretty neat trick about softening kale. If you eat kale right off the stalk, it can be pretty chewy. Not that appetizing, really. Well I found a tip online that has completely changed how I eat kale. Take a big bunch of kale, put it on a bowl, sprinkle a pinch of salt on it, massage the salt in to the leave, let it sit for about 10 minutes. That is it. The salt helps break down the leaves so they have the consistency of regular lettuce. Now all I want to do is eat kale salads.

Mahi mahi with a kale and edamame salad

For the fish (This is enough for one fillet of fish. Adjust the amounts based on the servings you want).
1 piece, mahi mahi (any white, mild fish would probably work.)
1/2 clove garlic
1/4 tsp honey
1 tsp soy sauce
Shake of ginger powder (you could use fresh ginger if you have some on hand)

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Coat the fish with the marinade and let it sit for about ten minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place fish on a baking sheet. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until fish is cooked through.

Kale and edamame salad
1 cup softened kale
1/3 cup edamame (or however much you want), shelled, cooked and cooled
Salt and pepper to taste

Vinaigrette
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp soy
1/2 tsp honey
Sprinkle of ginger powder (or grate of fresh ginger)

Combine the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a bowl. Whisk together and let sit for about 10 minutes for the flavors to mix together. Add in the kale and edamame and toss to coat with the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper. Serve alongside mahi mahi.