Happy New Year all! I hope that everyone was able to celebrate 2012 and welcome the beginning of a new year. Matt and I are looking forward to all that 2013 brings and welcome any new adventures that may arise. We are grateful for a wonderful family and for our quite amazing group of friends. We also look forward to celebrating our second wedding anniversary early next week! I can’t believe that two years have already passed! Time flies when you’re married to your best friend! I look forward to the new opportunities and challenges that will arise this year. I hope that everyone had a wonderful NYE and has a prosperous, healthy year ahead!
Anyhow, onto one of my favorite appetizers! We frequent a wine bar in Philadelphia called Tria that not only has fantastic wine, but delicious small plates. We are obsessed with their herbed ricotta and pistachio bruschetta. It is fantastic! We honestly order 3 small plates of the amazingness every time go in. Since our obsession seems to be insatiable, I thought that it was important that I figured out how to make an as delectable version at home. I think the true secret is the addition of the pistachios and since I’m a honey addict, it also makes the plate for me too. It’s so easy to make and is sure to please your family or any guests!
It may not look like a lot, but boy is it amazing!
This recipe is very variable, you can either prepare a little or a lot depending on what you are planning on serving it for. I often make a small batch and eat it in place of a sandwich for lunch. So there are no specific measurements but require you to go more on taste and the amount you want to prepare.
- 1 loaf of french bread, sliced on the bias into half inch thick slices
- 1 jar of fresh or store prepared ricotta
- Pistachios, shelled and roughly chopped
- Fresh basil, chiffonade (aka small strips; it’s easiest to roll on bunch of leaves and then cut them into small strips)
- Dried lavender
- Salt & fresh cracked black pepper
Read the rest of this entry
Thanksgiving dinner was a success! Matt and I had a wonderful meal and I thoroughly enjoyed putting my own twist on a few classic recipes. We did, however, miss our families and look forward to spending time with them on Christmas. Our Thanksgiving menu included: homemade cranberry sauce, semi-homemade cornbread stuffing, chive and cream cheese mashed potatoes, homemade yeast rolls, and of course turkey and from scratch gravy. I also made a few desserts! You can check out my quick and delicious apple pie recipe and be on the lookout for Matt’s favorite dessert, cream cheese pumpkin roll. We had a lot to be thankful for this year and I am so glad I was able to prepare such a flavorful meal for my well deserving husband.
The turkey was fantastic! I stuffed the cavity with oranges, lemons, sage, thyme and fresh sprigs or rosemary. I made a compound butter with sage, thyme, rosemary, and fresh cracked black pepper that I spread on the skin of the turkey. I basted the turkey regularly with pan drippings and some melted butter infused with the same herbs I listed above. It was so good! I’m glad we have a lot of leftovers!
One of Matt’s favorites sandwiches is the Turkey Cranberry sandwich from Paradise Cafe and Bakery. I decided to draw inspiration from that when looking for a way to repurpose our leftovers. I used my homemade cranberry sauce (Never made it? It’s so easy! Throw a bag of cranberries into a small stock pot with 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, a splash of orange juice and apple cider, as well as a generous pinch of cinnamon and orange rind and let it simmer on the stove until the cranberries break down and the sugar thickens the sauce. It only takes about 20 minutes and is a thousand times more delicious than the canned variety!) and avocado on this sandwich and it really made the sandwich fantastic. I also added a generous sprinkle of my semi-homemade cornbread stuffing (I’ll fill you in on this recipe later!).
Read the rest of this entry
I feel like every time I log onto Pinterest, I see a new recipe converting old faithfuls into individual muffin pan recipes (maybe I’ll start seeing my recipe too! if you all pin me:). Muffin pan meatloaves. Muffin pan breakfast sandwiches. I’ll tell you from seeing all of them, I felt a little inspired to see what else I could come up with. I often make individual cheesecakes in the muffin tin but I wanted to think a little further outside the box. I’ve made egg and potato breakfast tarts for years but was desiring something I had never seen done before. And then it hit me! Tacos! These little cuties exceeded my expectations! Not only did they taste fantastic but these little morsels are perfect for feeding a crowd.
I’m thinking that these will definitely make the rotation for football Sundays (Go Pats!) and any other big get togethers that occur this Fall. I really like to serve foods that are able to be picked up at get togethers because I feel like it really relaxes the mood of any dinner get together AND these could be served using napkins instead of plates–also a huge bonus when serving a crowd. I loved that I didn’t have to heat up the crunchy taco shells in the oven. For whatever reason I hate that step in making tacos. Plus another bonus was that it was essentially a one pan meal! All you have to do is cook the taco meat and then layer each individual cup. I know that your family will love them as much as we do. I used ground turkey and refried beans for the filling but this recipe is very versatile though. You could definitely use black beans instead or even add rice to the taco cups. This recipe is probably on the easiest to turn into a vegetarian friendly meal. I look forward to making them again in the near future.
Necessary equipment: muffin pan
- Wonton Wrappers
- 1 lb Ground meat–I used ground turkey
- 1/2 medium onion diced–optional, I always add onion to my taco/ground meat filling
- 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
- Taco Seasoning– my homemade recipe located here
- Beans– I used refried beans
- Taco cheese
- Taco toppings: sour cream, salsa, lettuce etc.
Read the rest of this entry
We love all foods that are Mexican in our house. Tacos. Fajitas. Enchiladas. All of it. Sometimes it gets a little monotonous eating the same foods though–and that’s why I like to come up with what I refer to as recipe redos. If you are tired of making the go to dishes, like tacos and burritos, you’ll love giving this dish a try. I not only love Mexican food but am obsessed with soup. I literally could eat soup every day and not get tired of it. Matt on the other hand, refuses to eat soup in scorching weather, so it has been awhile since I’ve made any. Now that the weather is cooling down a bit, it was my free pass to make one of our favorites. This recipe for Chicken Fajita soup is definitely one of my favorite recipe redos. This recipe is also very vegetarian friendly–omit the chicken and add another can of black beans, and you have yourself a high protein meal with a lot of veggies. I like to serve my soup over crushed tortilla chips and cheese as opposed to sprinkling them on top. I like that the chips get soft and they actually help to thicken the soup. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do–it’s the best on cold Fall evenings–plus it can definitely feed a crowd and it’s a one pot meal. Bonus.
- 1 box (32 oz) of chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 red peppers–sliced to uniform thickness
- 1 large red or sweet onion–sliced to uniform thickness
- 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 can condensed chicken soup
- 1 can black beans-rinsed and drained
- 2-3 cloves of cloves of chopped garlic
- 1 can enchilada sauce–mine was the medium heat level
- 1 lb of chicken breast–precooked, I cooked mine in the slow cooker earlier in the day
- 1/4-1/2 cup pickled jalapeños chopped–or less if they are fresh/based on your heat preference
- 1/2-3/4 cup of frozen corn (optional)
- Cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, & avocado for garnish
- A squeeze of lime juice over each bowl served (optional)
Read the rest of this entry
Cooking on the grill is probably one of my favorite cooking methods. I think food just tastes better fresh of the grill.Unfortunately, now that we live in the City we are unable to have a grill because we have no where to store or use it in our apartment complex. It’s a terrible thing really. I honestly used to grill year round–I would freeze in the winter on our patio area usually once or twice a week because I love grilled food that much.
Anyhow, now in order to eat some of our summertime favorites, I’ve had to get a little bit creative in the approach. Matt loves skewers so I have been baking them in the oven for the past year or so. They come out really well and allows us to enjoy them year round. It is definitely a light, easy meal to throw together. I call this my Hawaiian version of skewers because I marinate the chicken in citrus juice with a bunch of dried herbs, as well as add pineapple to the skewers. I think taking the time to marinate the chicken, even if you can only do it for 20 minutes, really improves the flavors. If you’re lucky enough to have a grill, this recipe will obviously work great for grilling out too (I’m wicked jealous if this is the case!). Skewers are great for entertaining and you can even have your guests help you put them together, so each person is able to customize their skewers according to their taste. If you are able to grill out over the weekend, you should give this recipe a try! Enjoy.
- Vegetables of your choice: I used red pepper, red onion, squash, & zucchini
- Chicken (Sausage is also a great addition to any skewer)
- Orange Juice
- Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce
- Brown Sugar
- Salt & Pepper
- Dried Seasonings: I used rosemary, thyme, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, a pinch of cayenne pepper, & onion powder Read the rest of this entry
I went to my favorite produce store called Produce Junction and was able to stock up on a lot of great veggies! I decided I would make a fresh summer stir fry that is so delicious and healthy–plus I had everything I needed right in my pantry. Bonus. I did get a little carried away with taking photos of my veggies–but they were so beautiful I just had to share. Thanks to my mandolin, 90 second brown rice, and some precooked chicken I had in the fridge–dinner was ready from start to finish in less than 15 minutes.
I also thought that this recipe was a great recipe to introduce a free giveaway open to US residents to reward my readers! This kitchen scale is pretty awesome! Not to mention really handy in the kitchen too–for example you can make sure each burger is the same size or each bread loaf is the same weight for equal cooking time or to start really monitoring your portion sizes.
I was recently contacted by SlimKicker–a free healthy living app— that is a calorie tracker and interactive game based on your healthy choices. The purpose of the app is to turn your dietary habits and fitness goals into a level up game, where you earn points and rewards by tracking what you eat and completing challenges (an example challenge: giving up soda for a week or performing 20 squats a day). Once you achieve your goals and earn points from healthy eating, you are able to earn a reward you set for yourself. Each reward requires a certain number of points and thanks to the app, you’ll be reminded when to reward yourself. You are also able to connect with other people using the app to help motivate each other and join the same challenges. It’s an excellent way to motivate yourself and to keep track of your healthy choices.
So, what do you have to do win the giveaway?
All you need to do now is leave a comment on this post with your suggestion of a fitness/diet challenge. It should be 1-2 sentences & as creative and fun as you can come up with. SlimKicker will browse all the posts and pick their favorite idea and the winner after a week. Some of the recent challenges included:
- Giving up your favorite high calorie snack
- Adding an extra protein to your breakfast
- Sprinting once a week
Now on to the delicious recipe!
Necessary equipment: a mandolin (not exactly necessary, just makes your life a whole lot easier) & a wok
- Your favorite summer veggies: I used a zucchini, squash, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, handful of fresh peas, frozen corn, and garlic (I probably had about 5 cups of veggies)
- Low sodium soy sauce
- Chili garlic sauce or Sriracha
- 90 second brown rice
- Sesame seeds (optional)
Read the rest of this entry
Sometimes it is really hard to convince yourself to eat breakfast in the morning but you have to because it really is the most important meal of the day. Your body uses food–primarily carbohydrates (this is your body’s favorite food to fuel source)–as it’s go to source for energy. It’s important to eat a healthy, balanced diet to not only keep your metabolism going but to also keep your brain functioning on early mornings. I know some people skip meals in order to reduce their calorie intake because they think that this will help them burn stored fat–well, unfortunately the body doesn’t quite work that way.
Skipping meals is actually bad for your metabolism. The body gets tricked into preservation mode when you don’t eat enough calories/a balanced diet. What does preservation mode mean? It means that your body is actually tricked into storing fat/won’t give up fat because it thinks that there are impending bad times ahead–you can thank evolution for this phenomena. When food used to be scare, our bodies would store and hold onto as much fat as possible–think of it as your bodies very own rainy day fund.
This is what really happens in the body.
- Body breaks down carbohydrates –> energy
- Once carbohydrate stores are depleted–>body looks for other sources to break down for fuel in the body…
- HEALTHY BODIES (diets rich in protein/complex carbs)–> body will breakdown stored fat –> energy
- NOT SO HEALTHY BODIES (i.e. not enough calorie intake/not a balanced diet): body goes into preservation mode –> body skips fat break down–> body breaks down protein for fuel
What this all means? If you don’t ingest enough protein and carbs, your body will actually start munching on its own muscles for fuel. Not good!
Extreme athletes that push themselves to extreme limits will use protein as a source of energy after all other stores are depleted–but they also know how to replenish protein quickly so it doesn’t do damage to their bodies. The average person–who say is walking to work–shouldn’t be using protein as a source of energy at all. That’s why it is important to eat a diet that has both protein and healthy carbs. One of my favorite college professors always used to tell us “Carbohydrate ingestion–spares protein breakdown”–as you can tell she was anti the extreme low carb diets. So what she was saying is that if you eat enough complex carbohydrates–your body will never go into that preservation mode & burn your muscle tissue. What it is really all about is feeding your body the right kind of carbs–complex carbs, in place of insulin spiking simple carbs. My strawberry peanut butter wraps offer a great source of protein and complex carbs with a side of antioxidants & vitamin C from the strawberries. It is a great on the go snack/breakfast–just wrap it in aluminum foil and eat it burrito style on the go. Couldn’t be more simple or tasty.
- Multigrain tortillas
- Peanut or Almond Butter
- Sliced strawberries
- Raw Agave syrup for drizzling