Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Little Latin Taste

Perhaps it was my early morning Zumba class that inspired me but I was feeling the Latin love yesterday. So I decided to make up a slow cooker dish with a little inspiration from a recipe I found in my collection. This was pretty easy and had great flavor. In all my excitement (or actually we were STARVING) I didn't take a picture.

Slow Cooked Chimichurri-Style Brisket
Serves 2

 4 small garlic cloves, minced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 cup of red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
coarse salt
freshly ground pepper
1.5 lb local grass-fed brisket


Using a blender or an emulsion blender,  pulse the garlic, onions, and vinegar together until mostly smooth.  Next, add the oil and blend. Lastly, blend in the sugar, cilantro, salt, and pepper.  Save approx. 1/2 cup to use as sauce later. 

Place the brisket in the slow cooker. Pour remaining sauce to cover meat. Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours.  While the meat certainly does not need sauce to be flavorful, you may wish to drizzle with reserved sauce or spoon out liquid from the slow cooker. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Orange Sesame Chicken

Orange Sesame Chicken


2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 navel orange
1/8 cup Honey
1 tbsp. Soy sauce

1/4 cup Sweet orange marmalade
1/2 tbsp. Canola or peanut oil
1/4 tsp. Asian sesame oil
2/3 tsp. Thai chile sauce ( Sriracha)

1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 cups Toasted Breadcrumbs (use fresh crumbs not the pre-crumbled kind on the shelves)
1/4 cup Sesame seeds, lightly toasted


Preheat the oven to 450.  Break bread into tiny pieces and pulse until you have rough crumbs. Then toast them over the stove in olive oil until golden.  Set aside.

With a meat pounder, lightly pound the chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap to even out the thickness of the breasts.  

Grate the zest from half of the orange. Then, cut 2 very thin slices from the center of the orange to use later.

In a large bowl, combine the zest with honey, soy sauce, marmalade,  canola oil, sesame oil, chile sauce, and salt. Add the chicken and toss to coat well.

In a large shallow dish, toss the breadcrumbs with the sesame seeds. Working with one piece at a time, transfer the chicken to the dish of crumbs, scoop some crumbs on top, and press well a couple of times so the breadcrumbs adhere to both sides. Transfer to a rack on an aluminum-lined baking sheet. Dip the orange slices in the leftover marmalade mixture to coat both sides and set on the rack.

Bake until chicken's temperature reaches 165 degrees (about 20 minutes). Be aware that the crumbs may start to burn because of the high temps so adjust as needed. When finished, top the breasts with the orange slices. I served it with jasmine rice. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Easter and Recipes For Your Next Cookout!

I was very fortunate that the Easter Bunny made a visit to my house even though I said that I didn't believe in him. How embarrassed am I?! Also, who knew the Easter Bunny was a foodie? He must know me well because look at the treats that he brought me!

And there was more fun to be had this past weekend since we had some friends over for a cookout. We had quite a few things but I'm just going to share a few of the recipes for time's sake.

This time I decided to do something non-traditional with my pasta salad. There's nothing wrong with serving traditional pasta salad, potato salad, cole slaw, etc. But doesn't that get a little boring? So, I tried something different and added a southwestern flair. I had been meaning to try this recipe for quite some time since so many people were recommending it. I'm actually not sure where it came from so I didn't include my source. I really liked it. But the verdict is that my "other pasta salad" is still better, the more traditional one.

Wagon Wheel Pasta Salad


 1 lb wagon wheel pasta
1- 14 3/4 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 10-oz package frozen corn, let thaw a bit
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
8 oz shredded mexican-blend cheese
1.5 cups salsa
1/2 cup olive oil
3-4 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp cumin
1-2 tsp chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt& pepper
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 avocado diced


Cook pasta. drain and rinse with cold water.

In a large bowl, combine black beans, corn, tomatoes, salsa and cheese. Toss with the pasta and mix well.

In another bowl, whisk together olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cumin, chili powder. Pour dressing over pasta salad. Add cilantro and avocado right before serving, mix well. season with salt and pepper

I made a casserole also to the tune of a southwest theme. This one I had made before and liked. Also, it's so easy!

Corn Casserole (I don't remember where this one came from either or if I made it up way back when)

 1 cup biscuit mix
1-14.5 oz yellow cream corn
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large egg, beaten
½ cup milk
1-4 oz can chopped green chilis
6 oz Monterey Jack cheese, sliced
 Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine first five ingredients.
Spread ½  mixture in greased 8X8 pan.
Sprinkle with chilis and cover with sliced cheese.
Add remainder over top of chili/cheese.
Bake 30 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Beer-Braised Brats
My husband makes these and they are damn good! You will need a large aluminum pan, a grill, uncooked bratwursts, an onion, and two beers (this was for 9 brats.) Basically you put the onion and beers into the aluminum pan and get it heated on the grill. The onions will need to simmer for 15 minutes then you add the brats. The brats will simmer for another 30-45 minutes. Finally, put them on a medium heat grill to crisp the outside (another 10-15 minutes or until done.) You can save the juices and onions from the pan to pour over your brats. Put them on a bratwurst bun and add sauerkraut!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mexican and Some Daily Affirmation

I don't have anything clever to share today (except for a recipe) so I'll leave you with this:

You may have seen this since it's been passed around for awhile now but I think everyone can benefit from a little daily affirmation. :-)

The following recipe was adapted from something I saw on SparkPeople a few years ago and I've been making it ever since. So, it is diet-friendly. I didn't use the correct amount of ingredients since I was just using up the stuff I had in my pantry so my picture may look a bit different than you'd expect. I love this one, it tastes much more unhealthy than it is!

Mexican Lasagna (Source:
Serves 6


1 lb. ground turkey
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 onions, chopped
2 10 oz. cans black beans, drained and slightly mashed
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 cups tomato sauce
1 10 oz. can stewed tomatoes, coarsely chopped
6 medium whole wheat tortillas
1 cup low fat shredded cheddar cheese


1. Preheat oven 350° F.

2. Sauté 1 onion, 1 garlic clove on high heat while breaking up meat. Cook until meat is no longer pink. Stir in black beans. Set sauté pan aside.

3. Heat oil in another sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté remaining onion, until soft. Add remaining garlic, chili powder and cumin, sauté for 30 seconds. Add tomato sauce and tomatoes with juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, simmer partially covered for 20 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened. Transfer all but 1/2 c sauce to meat and beans; Mix well.

4. Dip half the tortillas, one at a time, in the hot tomato sauce. Lay tortillas in the bottom of an 8.5 x 11 casserole dish. Spread half meat and bean mixture over tortillas. Sprinkle half the cheese over meat and beans.

5. Add another layer of tortillas and meat & beans mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 35 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Feeling Like Some Chinese?

This dish usually hits the spot for me with it's sweet and savoriness. I've been making it for years. It's actually an old Weight Watchers recipe. So those watching your figures, don't fret too much about eating this one. I think each serving is 7 points if I remember correctly. I didn't actually do the diet, I just borrowed some recipes. I'm not a big fan of diets in general. People pretty much always gain the weight back. I think it's more about lifestyle changes (eating healthier and exercising) if you want to keep it off.

I served this in a bowl over brown rice.

Chinese-Pineapple Chicken with Black Bean Sauce
(Source: Weight Watchers)

 cooking spray
4  scallions, chopped (green and white parts)
1 Tbsp ginger root, fresh, chopped or the minced kind in the jar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
20 oz canned pineapple chunks or tidbits, packed in juice, 
1/4 cup black bean garlic sauce
Cornstarch (optional)
2 cup cooked brown rice


  1. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set pan over medium-high heat. Add scallions, ginger and garlic; cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned on all sides, stirring often.

  2. Add pineapple (with its juice) and black bean sauce to skillet; bring to a simmer. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. The sauce will be thin. If you prefer a thicker sauce, you can add about a Tbsp of cornstarch to the pan and let it thicken. Serve over rice.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes

I'm not a huge fan of cooking chicken but when good recipes come along, I'll give them a try. This one is pretty simple and tastes great. It was passed on to me from my mom. Whenever I see my mom, she somehow manages to put all kinds of things in my bag like recipes, newspaper clippings, magazine for cities that I don't live in. I make fun of this but some of these things I actually keep. Does your mom do this or is it just mine?

Rosemary-baked Chicken and Potatoes


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
8 boneless skinless thighs (I prefer to use about a pound and half of chicken breasts instead)
2 lbs. small red potatoes cut into bite-size pieces 


Preheat oven to 425.
In a large bowl, combine oil, paprika, rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Add chicken and potatoes. Toss to coat.
Arrange potatoes on a nonstick foil-lined baking pan. Bake 15 minutes.
Push potatoes to the side and place chicken on the pan. Bake 30-35 minutes longer or until chicken is fully cooked.
Occasionally turn potatoes throughout cooking.
Serve with crusty bread and olive oil!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Shrimp and Grits Casserole

This dish shouldn't be confused with the Shrimp n Grits recipe that I already have in my blog. While it's a similar type dish, the flavors are quite different. But they are both delicious! I might like the flavors of the other one a tad better but this one is faster and easier to prepare. It's actually not my recipe but a friend of the family's who graciously shared it (the same one who shared this  fabulous recipe.) Of course, I act like this dish is so effortless (which is almost is) but I fumbled. Since it was just two of us eating, I modified the recipe to make less of it. But apparently going to Georgia Tech, doesn't = math wizard because I calculated the amount of chicken broth incorrectly and added an extra cup. grits took FOREVER to cook down. But you won't make that mistake, will you?

Also, I noticed that some of my blog posts had almost 1500 views. So, who are you? It's okay to introduce yourself or comment! If you have suggestions or requests for me, I'll take those as well. In fact, it's gets pretty lonely having shy readers!

Shrimp and Grits Casserole ( per Glen)

4 cups chicken stock or broth
1 cup uncooked grits
8 oz velveeta or cheddar cheese shredded and divided
2 tbsp butter
6 green onions: green parts only, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1-10 oz can Rotel tomatoes and chilis, drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook grits in broth/stock until done.
Saute onion tops, pepper and garlic in butter until tender.
Divide cheese into two units: 1/3 cup and 2/3 cup.
Stir together onion mix, grits, 2/3 cup cheese, shrimp and Rotel.
Pour into greased 2-quart baking dish.
Sprinkle top with reserved cheese.
Bake for 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Easy Spinach Tofu Lasagna

Stop scrunching up your nose, haven't you heard the phrase "Don't knock it til you try it?" Maybe it's because I am actually a tofu fan, but I thought it was pretty decent. I didn't miss the ricotta cheese or meat at all. (The tofu replaced the ricotta.) Tofu can take on almost any flavor or consistency depending on how you prepare it. It's awesome like that.

Spinach Tofu Lasagna

This picture was taken right out of the oven so it will look a tad different once you let it set. Also please excuse the messy stove. Deep cleaning day is tomorrow :) Do you like my William Sonoma Easter plates? My mom got them for me. She also got matching mugs to go with them. Isn't she cute?!


 1 lb. firm tofu, drained
1 jar sun-dried tomato pasta sauce
9 no-cook lasagna noodles
1/2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
5 oz. fresh spinach leaves
6-7 slices of mozzarella cheese


1) Preheat oven to 375.
2) Using your hands, crumble the tofu into a bowl and set aside. Watch out, it is SO cold on your hands kind of like when you mix up ground beef to make meatballs/meatloaf.
3) Pour 1/2 cup of the sauce in a baking dish. Spread evenly.  Add a layer of the noodles. Then add 1/2 cup of tofu sprinkled with some of the seasoning and finish with the spinach on top.  Repeat this step until you have used up your noodles/filling. Try to end with the noodles and sauce on top. Press down the layers.
4) Pour any remaining sauce over the top. 
5) Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.
6) Pull out the lasagna and remove foil. Top with cheese slices and bake for another 5 minutes.
7) Let sit for 5 minutes out of the oven before serving.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spice Is Nice

After complaining about the price (to no one in particular), I finally left Whole Foods with two grass-fed ribeyes. In reality, I *almost* got a steal when you think about how much those two lovely pieces of meat would have cost had I ordered them in one of Atlanta's nice chop houses. I don't usually order ribeyes because I like my meat leaner. However, grass fed meat is going to be leaner naturally so by getting a cut that usually has some marbling, you end up with a damn tasty steak! Though, I can't take credit for that part of our meal, my husband is the grill master around here. I promise they tasted better than the picture!

With the steaks, I served an interesting pilaf which is the recipe that I'm sharing. Also, I opened one of my cheaper bottles of Cabernet. I think it was $6.99 at Total Wine.  This wine was pretty good for the price. But I've had bottles that were just under $20 that were better so whether I'd recommend it would really depend on your price point.

Orange Spiced Pilaf with Berries and Nuts

 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 and a half medium onions: 1 onion large slices - half onion diced

1/4 tsp. ground allspice

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Pinch ground cloves

1 tsp. kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 orange, zest finely grated (1 tsp.) and juiced (about 2-3 Tbs.)

3/8 cup dried tart cherries
or cranberry mix
1 cups jasmine rice

3/8 cup pistachios, pecans, or slivered almonds toasted and roughly chopped 

In a large skillet/saucepan, melt 1 Tbs. of the butter over medium heat. Add the sliced onions, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally for 21 minutes. Add the three spices and stir well. Reduce the heat to low and cook another 5 min., stirring occasionally, to allow the onion to absorb the flavors of the spices and caramelize a bit more. Season with 1/4 tsp. of the salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Set aside.

Pour the orange juice over the berries in a small bowl. If the liquid is not enough to cover them, add water and set aside.

In another large saucepan melt the 1 Tbs. butter over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the diced onion. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Add the rice and remaining salt and stir well to coat each grain with butter. Toast for a full 5 minutes, stirring regularly to keep the grains separated and to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of  the pan. Be careful not to burn the rice.

Add 1-1/2 cups of water, stir once, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 18 minutes. Remove from the heat, and let the pilaf sit, still covered, for 5 minutes.
Once the pilaf has rested, remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork. Strain the berries and discard the orange juice. Using the fork, gently fold in the berries, onions, nuts, and orange zest. Serve warm.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Veggie Fried Quinoa

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is one of the new super foods. It is a type of seed I believe that is high in protein and magnesium and is especially good for people with diabetes, migraines, and atherosclerosis. It's also gluten free! It doesn't hurt that it also tastes good in my opinion. There are lots of different things that you can do with it too. I decided to go the Asian route for dinner.

We also opened up another bottle of wine from Harvest Moon , the Pinot Noir. It was delicious but we managed to save a bit for tonight.

Quinoa Vegetable, Fried ( Source: SparkPeople)


1 cup cooked quinoa
1 package mixed vegetables, any variety you like (asian stir-fry, broccoli medley is good)
1 cup frozen edamame, shelled
1 egg
2 tsp canola oil
3 tbsp tamari soy sauce
1 clove minced garlic

1 tsp corn starch dissolved in warm water
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar added to tamari
Chili pepper flakes

Sriracha hot sauce 
salt and pepper


Briefly boil/blanch frozen veggies and edamame and heat up wok or stir-fry pan. Add canola oil to hot pan and then add drained veggies. Stir in garlic and cook briefly. Add in quinoa, then tamari/vinegar/corn starch sauce. Stir fry until incorporated and quinoa is hot.

Move mixture up sides of wok to make space in the middle of the pan for the egg. Break into pan and scramble, eventually incorporating into mixture.

Season with optional ingredients. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Whole Wheat Gobbetti w/ Roasted Peppers and Coppa

I actually like this meal better the next day as lunch. Either way, it was pretty good but next time I will probably use less peppers and onions and a little more meat and a spicier one at that. I took a picture on my camera not knowing that the card wasn't in it at the time. Since I still can't find my camera cord, I will have to wait to upload it. Sorry!

Whole Wheat Gobbetti with Roasted Peppers and Coppa

2-3 medium red bell peppers

Olive oil
1/2 onion, sliced

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper
Half a 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained

A large sprig of thyme, chopped

1/6 lb. thinly sliced coppa, chopped

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

3/4 cup heavy cream

Pinch of nutmeg

1 tsp. finely grated orange zest

8 oz..  gobbetti or cavatappi
(whole wheat if you are being health conscious)
1/8 cup grated Grana Padano or Pecorino cheese

1/6 cup fresh breadcrumbs


Roast the peppers by broiling them in a pan until the skins are charred, turning until all sides are well blistered. Let cool. Peel off the skins, core and seed the peppers, and cut the flesh into thin strips.

In a large skillet, heat about 1-2 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring until almost tender. Add the peppers, salt and pepper, and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook another 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the thyme and coppa.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. 

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, cream, nutmeg, and orange zest. Season with salt and pepper and whisk until smooth.

Heat the oven to 425°F. Lightly coat a large, shallow baking dish with cooking spray or oil.

Cook the pasta until al dente.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss the grated cheese with the breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper and add a drizzle of olive oil. Mix well.

Drain the pasta well and place in the baking dish. Add the pepper and onions and toss. Add the creamy mixture and toss again. Top evenly with the breadcrumb mixture and a drizzle of fresh olive oil. Bake uncovered until browned and bubbling, 20 minutes. 


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pork Stew Verde

My husband liked this meal better than I did though I did enjoy it. I just felt that it could have been a tad spicier. Maybe next time I will user hotter peppers.

 Pork Stew Verde


1/8 cup flour
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon seasoned pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground sage
3 tablespoons canola oil 

2 pounds pork loin roast or pork stew meat
2 tablespoons wine or vinegar
1 and 1 half large onions,  chopped
4 small potatoes, peeled
2 cups tomatillo/verde salsa
2 cans  chopped green chiles
2 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon brown sugar


Combine flour, cumin, pepper, salt, and sage in a shallow dish or pan; add pork and coat thoroughly.

Brown pork in hot oil; remove when browned and set aside.

With heat still on, add the wine or vinegar to the skillet, scraping up brown bits.

Place onions, potatoes, salsa, chicken broth, brown sugar, pork, and scraped bits from the skillet in the slow cooker.

Stir ,cover, and cook on high 5 hours or low for 8 hours.


I picked up this nice summer brew at Total Wine on my last wine run. I had heard about it from friends that are from New Orleans and swear by it. This is the perfect summer beer! It's light and refreshing. The strawberry is so subtle while you are drinking it and then leaves you with the berry after taste and not in the nasty way that a lot of flavored beers do. However, my husband was not a fan. His verdict: "It tastes like cheap beer." He wasn't completely wrong. I think when it first hits your tongue, it tastes like a Miller or Budweiser beer but it leaves you with something so much better.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Rosemary-Garlic Lamb Loin Chops

Tonight's dinner felt fancier than normal. Perhaps it is because I used New Zealand lamb and served it with an awesome wine (more on that in a minute.)  But really, this is a meal that is easy to make and will impress. The meal: Rosemary-Garlic Lamb Chops, Tomato Mixture, Tomato-Balsamic Rice and Cannellini beans.

 Rosemary-Garlic Lamb Loin Chops (recipe from Better Homes and Gardens)



1  recipe  Tomato-Balsamic Rice, (recipe below)
4    lamb loin chops, cut 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick (1-3/4 to 2 lb. total)
1  tablespoon  snipped fresh rosemary
3  cloves  garlic, minced
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/2  teaspoon  ground black pepper
1  tablespoon  olive oil
2  cups  cherry tomatoes
1  teaspoon  balsamic vinegar
    Rosemary sprigs 


1. Prepare Tomato-Balsamic Rice. Meanwhile, arrange oven rack so that the top of the chop surface is 4 to 5 inches from the heat when placed on a broiler pan. Make sure to account for the height of broiler pan and chops. Preheat broiler.
2. Coat the top of broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray. Rub both sides of the chops with half of each of the the snipped rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper. Broil chops for 18 to 20 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in chops registers 145 degrees F (medium-rare doneness), turning occasionally to brown evenly.
3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add tomatoes and remaining half of the snipped rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes just begin to soften. Stir in vinegar.

4. Serve chops with tomatoes, and Tomato-Balsamic Rice. Top with rosemary sprigs. Makes 4 servings.
Tomato-Balsamic Rice: In a medium saucepan combine 2 cups water, 1 cup uncooked jasmine or long grain rice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 18 to 20 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Stir in one 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano, drained; 1/2 cup frozen peas; and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar. Cover; let stand 5 minutes to heat through. Makes about 4 cups.

The wine that I served it with was Frank Family Vineyard's 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Their wines are so delicious. I picked it up at Total Wine. I've wanted to buy one of their wines for a couple of years now. Back story on this: When I was in Napa in 2009, someone who wishes to remain anonymous needed to use a restroom while we were driving around on a dirt road with no stops in sight...until we came across this winery. They had nice, clean bathrooms and no objections to us using them. They were used and then we left promptly. The next day we found ourselves in the same predicament and stopped back at FFV. This time they gave us a free tasting. We loved the wines but we're in a hurry to make a reservation and said we'd be back to actually buy something. We never went back. So I've always felt that I "owed it them" to buy some of their wine.  While it is kind of pricey, it is SO worth it. I will definitely be buying more in the future. This bottle was purchased as a Valentine's gift for my hubs.