Phew! Finals are over and I have a few weeks off before resuming classes. I am looking forward to getting back into the kitchen over break and trying all the recipes I’ve been stockpiling during my study breaks (aka periods of pure procrastination!) It is finally feeling a little bit more like the Holiday season now that I’ve caught up on sleep and feel like a real member of society again. I am in the preliminary stages of my Holiday shopping and have already brainstormed a few really great gift ideas. One of my gift ideas is actually a little bit of an at home project, so I look forward to sharing that after the Holidays! It seems like a great project and I can’t wait to get it started tomorrow morning. I’ll be sure to share after the Holidays when all of my gifts have been dispersed! I love giving personalized gifts because I feel that it really shows people just how much you care. I am also excited about creating all my favorite Holiday recipes! A particular favorite of mine is my candied almonds! I’m planning on making them this week and will be sure to share the recipe. They are to die for!
On to today’s recipe:) On a quick trip to Whole Foods I saw that Bibb lettuce was on sale for $1.99, avocados were on sale for $1.00, and ground chicken was also ridiculously on sale. I couldn’t resist any of these items and because of my underlying love of lettuce cups I knew I had all the makings of a very quick and healthy meal. If you know me at all, you know that I love all things spicy food. So naturally, I knew these ingredients would lend themselves very well to creating a twist on the traditional Asian inspired lettuce cup. It was undoubtedly a success and I’m not certain I’ll ever transition back to using taco shells after coming up with this recipe redo. One can’t beat tasty and healthy! Plus cutting the calories from the taco shells allows me to feel a little less guilty about having a small scoop of my homemade vanilla ice cream in the freezer (recipe to follow soon!).
I made a very simple guacamole to add on top. I used one avocado, a 1/4 cup of sweet onion which I rinsed under water to get rid of the pungent onion taste/smell, and a small handful of pickled jalapeños which I minced. I added a squeeze of lemon juice and salt and pepper and mashed it all together with a fork. I let it hang out in the fridge while I prepared to the rest of the meal.
- 1 head Bibb Lettuce, pre-washed and leaves separated
- 1 pound ground chicken, turkey, or beef
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
To a small bowl, add:
- 1 tsp Chili powder
- 1/2 tsp ground Cumin
- A liberal pinch of Cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp Worcestershire
- 1/2-1 tsp Sriracha or hot sauce
- Fresh cracked black pepper
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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!).
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Lately, I have been obsessed with Thai food. For whatever reason I have become insatiable when it comes to the stuff. It took all I had tonight not to order it while studying for my big exam this week. Anyhow, I decided to experiment a little and see what I could come up with the other day. I was pleasantly surprised with my new twist (considering I’ve only made it a few times before). It was perfectly citrusy and spicy at the same time. I think it tastes a little more authentic then my original Pad Thai recipe I adapted from one of my cook books. You’ll have to give it a try and see which one you prefer. Hopefully, my cravings will subside long enough for me to share the recipe before I find myself in the kitchen making another batch. Also, this recipe is easily adapted and will taste great if you decide to add shrimp or tofu in place of chicken. I hope you enjoy it!
Makes 4-6 servings
- 8oz package of Pad Thai noodles–I used Brown Rice Noodles made with 100% whole grain
- 2 tsp canola oil
- 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic
- 3/4-1 lb chicken breast; if you put chicken in the freezer a few minutes before slicing, it makes it a lot easier to slice into thin strips
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 pound bean sprouts; they were out at Whole Foods, so if I could have I would have totally added these to this recipe
- 1 ounce chives–roughly chopped
- For the sauce:
- Juice of 2 whole limes- mine were small, you could probably get away with using one large lime
- 3 tbs fish sauce
- 1 tbs sugar
- 2-3 tbs of Sriracha; we like things spicy, so adjust based on your heat preference
- 2-3 large shallots, finely diced
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped peanuts Read the rest of this entry
Sorry about the hiatus! Transitioning back to a full time student after some time off definitely takes a lot of time and effort! I have been exhausted but fortunately I have been learning a lot! We have been cooking at home a lot though..so despite the fact that I haven’t had much free time to post recipes lately, there are a lot of recipes to share in the near future. I hope everyone is enjoying the transition from summer to fall (although the weather has been pretty strange around these parts, so it hasn’t really felt like autumn consistently yet). I know I am looking forward to going apple picking, drinking cider, and making apple cider doughnuts! I love the fall and finally breaking all my favorite pairs of boots out of the closet!
I think you’ll observe a new trend in my approach to cooking…most of my recipes lately have been ones that I can throw together in less than 30 minutes. Today’s recipe was using some of the things that I commonly keep in my refrigerator! Whole wheat tortillas, precooked chicken or rotisserie chicken, and homemade BBQ sauce. I also always have fresh cheddar and mozzarella on hand. I recently purchased the Hot Pepper mix from Potbelly Sandwiches which I added to my quesadilla creation. The result was so so so good. I am actually looking forward to eating them again in the near future!
I hope you enjoy some of the quick, healthy meals I’ve been preparing lately and that you try to incorporate the recipes into your busy schedule as well. I made these quesadillas directly on my panini press and they came out fabulous and were prepared in a snap.
- Precooked chicken
- Whole wheat tortillas
- Your favorite cheese: I used sharp cheddar
- Hot pepper mix (optional)
- BBQ sauce
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We are back in Philly and I couldn’t be happier! It’s nice to travel but nothing beats coming home:) Anyhow, I wanted to share one of my favorite dishes growing up, stuffed shells! The first time I ever made them for Matt he had never had them before. He was pleasantly surprised with how delicious they were and requested them often. He even made me serve them to his Mom and Grandmother the first time they ate dinner at our place. Luckily for me, they are a fantastic and tasty…and a never fail recipe. The great thing about them is that the can be prepared in advance and can be thrown in the oven and forgotten about for an hour and come out perfectly gooey and delectable. Plus these are one of the few leftovers I actually will eat. Believe it or not, I actually think that they taste better the next day and I am typically so anti-leftover (it’s a terrible habit!).
The true funny story that accompanies these stuffed shells is that Matt had no idea I actually made them! He was under the impression–for the several times I made them–that I had bought them from the store already prepared! He was nearly shocked to come into the kitchen one night and to see me actually stuffing each individual shell. I couldn’t decide if I was offended or flattered that he thought my shells were pre made! We laugh about it every time I make them for dinner now.
This recipe is super versatile and can be made with whatever your favorite ingredients are. I typically use ground turkey as my filler but sausage, ground beef, or even pepperoni would be fantastic. I hope you give them a try and enjoy them as much as we do!
- 1 box Jumbo Shells
- 1 Jar of Pasta Sauce
- 1 lb of ground meat of your choice
- 1 15 oz container of Ricotta Cheese
- 1/4 c chopped red pepper
- 1/4 c chopped sweet onion
- 2-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese--I use mozzarella
- 1 Egg
- Fresh Basil–about 1 tbs chopped
- 2 tsp of Herbs de Provence (never heard of it? packed with savory, thyme, sage, basil among a lot of other delicious things!)
- Salt & fresh cracked black pepper
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What better way to celebrate a 3 day and Holiday weekend then with a barbeque. Although we’re missing my favorite part–the grill–I am able to make a killer substitute using our crockpot and making homemade barbecue sauce. I can’t even imagine how good this recipe would taste if we actually had a grill to cook it on. What can you do though–when life gives you lemons. This was the first time I have ever made homemade barbecue sauce. Not only is it super simple, it is super delicious…and the best part? It only takes 5 minutes of cooking time to bring the barbecue sauce together! I won’t ever go back to the bottled kind. Who knew it was so simple? This recipe also makes about 4 cups of sauce that can last in the refrigerator for up to a month if stored in an airtight container. Next summer I plan stock up on the homemade sauce to enjoy for weeks on end.
This barbecue sauce tastes like the sauces that are provided at authentic barbecue places. It’s not nearly as thick as the sugary commercial version, so if that’s what you are looking for, this sauce is unfortunately not it. I will say though, that this barbecue sauce has much more depth than the commercial kind. It’s sweet and tart at the same time (from the brown sugar and vinegar) with a little heat thrown in (from the dry mustard, ginger, and chili pepper). We were pleasantly surprised with how delicious the sauce came out and Matt is already asking for me to make ribs to try it on next.
I was inspired to make my own barbecue sauce because the more I learn about the production of food in our country, the more conscious I am about what we are putting into our bodies. I am really trying my best to become an informed cook to protect the things my husband and I are consuming. So many products have ingredients that you–1. don’t know you’re eating or 2. loads of artificial preservatives and additives. It gives me piece of mind to know exactly what kind of products we are consuming on a daily basis. It is also a bonus because it is good for our bodies too. I would say the only packaged food we eat on a regular basis is 90 second rice and that’s the way I intend to keep it for the rest of our lives. I splurge on a bag of chips probably every three months (but even those are typically organic) and in moderation. I really believe that your body does reflect the fuel that you put in it and you can’t expect to feel well if you aren’t doing your part to treat your body well. That is why I enjoy creating recipes like my crockpot chicken because it allows us to always have a healthy protein on hand and sets us up to make delicious meals with very low effort.
Makes about 4 cups of sauce
- 1 1/2 cups of ketchup
- 1 cup red wine vinegar (cider vinegar can be substituted if necessary)
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup Reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tbs. dry mustard
- 3 tbs. chili powder
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 2 tbs. honey
- Pinch of cayenne pepper and/or red pepper flakes
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbs. canola oil
- Juice from half a lemon
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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)
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Thai food is one of our favorite types of cuisines. I have been recently experimenting in the kitchen to try to figure out how to recreate our favorite dishes at home. While out shopping recently, I found a Thai spice mix that I have been wanting to use. I’m not certain of all the spices in the Thai mix but I do know that there is cumin, sesame seeds, dried chiles, and I think some sort of garlic powder. I used the mix to season the chicken in the dish but if you don’t have a Thai spice mix you can easily substitute. I am really happy with the way to dish turned out. I liked the addition of the carrots and the corn because it adds a small amount of sweetness to a spicy dish. The fresh basil imparts a fantastic flavor that I don’t think would be the same with dried basil (so I highly recommend using fresh basil). I served the chicken over frozen whole grain brown & wild rice that only required a few minutes in the microwave. All in all I think the meal was a success and I look forward to making it again in the future.
- 1lb of skinless, boneless chicken breast
- 2-3 tsp of Thai spice blend or use salt & pepper to season chicken
- 1/2 pepper–I used green because that’s what I had on hand
- 1/2 fresh snow peas
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, sliced on a bias
- 1-4-1/2 cup frozen corn
- 15-18 fresh basil leaves
- 2-3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1-2 tsp fish oil
- 1-2 tsp soy sauce
- 2-3 tbs of Sriracha–based on your desired level of spiciness
- Brown rice
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