Stir-Fry Shrimp

It has totally been one of those weeks. The really busy and crazy kind. The kind where I feel like doing nothing when I get home other than having a glass of wine or a cold beer on the patio and getting lost in a good book until the sun goes down. And that’s pretty much what I have done!

I also got to dog-sit for my parents this week, so the 4-legged ladies got to enjoy patio time with me – the 3 sweetest golden retrievers you will ever meet! Snuggling with them has also added an extra layer of “I don’t want to be productive,” so I followed Ginger’s orders and read some more on the couch with her after dinner. I mean, who can resist this face?

"You don't really need to do laundry...come snuggle with me instead!"

Anyways – as I said before, I must have a craving for Chinese-type cuisine or else it just doesn’t sound appealing. The craving struck this week. I had some shrimp waiting to be cooked – so I decided to throw together a stir-fry shrimp with snow peas. My was it delicious!

I’d highly recommend going home and making this…resist the urge to call for take-out and just do it yourself! Makes for a great date night, especially if you can throw in some fortune cookies!

Stir-Fry Shrimp (serves 2)

8 oz. shrimp, tails removed

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp. Sherry cooking wine

1/2 Tbsp. pickled ginger, minced

1 tsp. chili-garlic sauce

1/2 tsp. Sriracha

1 cup snow peas

1 Tbsp. peanut oil

Remove tails from shrimp and pat dry.

In a medium bowl, mix together soy sauce, sherry and minced ginger. Add your brown sugar. Then your cornstarch.

Throw in your chili-garlic sauce. Then add a little kick with some Sriracha – you can add more if you like it extra spicy, I thought the 1/2 tsp. was pretty mild!

Whisk together sauce and add your shrimp. Toss to coat and let marinate at least 30 minutes – 1-2 hours is probably best though!

Heat peanut oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.

When oil/pan is hot, use a slotted spoon and add your shrimp. Step back – it will probably crackle quite a bit! Cook about 3-4 minutes and then flip shrimp.

Add your snow peas. Cook another 3 minutes and stir, incorporating the snow peas.

Then, add the remaining sauce. Cook another 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently so it doesn’t stick – but allow the sauce to thicken.

I served mine with my vegetable fried rice – which I would highly recommend!

After this crazy week, I’m glad I at least have something to look forward to…

Have a great weekend everybody!

Advertisements

Roasted Chicken

I have been a bad, bad blogger. I am so sorry that my last post was what, a week ago?

Last week I came down with something awful and was at home sick for 2 days. No fun. I had to have my finger pricked – and I absolutely hate all shapes and forms of needles. The nurse asked if my blood pressure was usually low, because where mine was – apparently people are about to pass out. It’s not the sight of blood I promise – it’s more the foreign object drawing it out of me.

Ummm, I bet you really want to see pictures of food right now huh?

Anyways, I apologize for being a bad blogger. Saturday I was feeling much better – enough to go see “The Hunger Games” with the husband. Love. I’m ready for the second movie like, now.

Sunday I was feeling SO much better that I was told to decided to do some much-needed yard work! Our incredibly mild fall/winter had a bunch of leaves falling quite late, meaning it was way too cold to get out there and scoop the remainder of them up. Well, no excuses anymore. And I have the sore muscles and sunburn to prove it. I even got a funny sunburn – I blame my pants being too large (hey, I told you the stuff I cook for you is usually good for you, right?) so bending down and scooping up leaves allowed me to get a glorious sunburn on my lower back. Yes, these kinds of random  things happen to me.

ANYWAYS – Friday night, I was trying to figure out some meal plans for the remainder of the month that would fit our grocery budget and realized I had a whole frozen chicken hanging out in the freezer since like, before our wedding. So I decided that would be dinner on Sunday. It’s frozen, so the expiration date which had passed didn’t really mean anything…right?

Now, I have made Cornish Game Hens before – and they were cute and fun. I roasted and stuffed a turkey years ago for my roommates in college – but that was for Thanksgiving and I had step-by-step instructions from my dad. (Thanksgiving dinner for 8 people with plastic utensils and no dishwasher…I can’t believe I survived.)

So I was a bit intimidated by this 5 1/2 pound chicken. But guess what. There was no reason to be! (Other than learning that next time I will try to find a chicken with the “innards” bagged up and stuffed inside rather than “going fishing”.) It really was quite easy and for just two of us, it made a LOT! So pick up a chicken, don’t wait for a year to roast it, and enjoy!

Roasted Chicken – Serves 4-6

1 whole, frozen chicken

Olive oil

Minced garlic (or fresh)

1-2 lemons

Rosemary

Sage

Thyme

Kosher salt

Black pepper

1-2 Tbsp. butter

Veggies, if you choose

Heat your oven to about 425 degrees.

I had about 1/2 pound of green snap beans, so I decided to use those, half an onion and 1  russet potato to make a complete meal in 1 dish. I chopped it all up, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and threw it in the bottom of a medium roasting pan. Feel free to do the same, modify, or leave this step out completely.

Next, open all of your spice containers (I would have LOVED to use fresh herbs, but I didn’t have any on hand – still tasted great) and pour some spices into prep bowls so you don’t get raw chicken over everything. I found myself juggling and using my teeth to open things. I blame the antibiotics for my lapse in judgment.

Run your whole chicken under cold water and rinse well. Get inside the cavity too. Drain what you can. Remove the “innards” – again, next time I will look to see if there are some that have this step done and have it all in a nice neat little bag to pull out.

Pat dry with paper towels. Lots of paper towels. Seriously.

Sprinkle the inside of the cavity with kosher salt, black pepper, sage and thyme. Add some garlic and spread around with your fingers. Cut a lemon or two in half and shove those up there as well. The chicken will forgive you.

Now, drizzle about 1 tsp. olive oil on one side of the chicken and rub on the skin with your hands. Add some kosher salt, black pepper and rosemary. Rub that in as well.

Using a sharp knife, make 2 incisions in the skin (about 1/2 inch wide) and smear a little softened butter in there, along with some garlic, rosemary and kosher salt.

Flip the bird (hee hee) and repeat, making sure the skin has a nice coating of olive oil and seasoning.

Place chicken in the roasting pan breast side up (I placed mine on top of veggies – if you don’t, maybe add just 1-2 Tbsp. liquid like chicken broth) and cook according to directions on the chicken. Mine took about 1 1/2 hours to cook through. Baste every 20-30 minutes. If your chicken starts browning, make a little tent with aluminum foil to prevent it from burning. A nice crispy skin is good, but burnt skin is not. (Says the girl with bright pink shoulders).

Remove chicken from oven and let sit 10 minutes before carving. You can test to see if it is done by cutting the base of the leg – if the juices run clear, it’s ready!

Carve the chicken and serve with your delicious roasted veggies which have absorbed all of the citrus-herb-butter-olive oil liquid.

For me, this is a great weekend dish because I can get a few things done while it’s cooking – but I’m not rushed like I would be during the week. And this was just for two of us – so we had some great leftovers to work with…

Sorry again for being M.I.A. the past week – I promise I’ll make it up to you with some more delicious recipes this week!

Potatoes, Po-Boys and Smokies…Oh My?

So I’m newly married (6 months is coming up quickly!) and I work full-time. The husband is in study mode, so I have a lot of just “me” time – both good and bad! I am loving having a blog as a great creative outlet and something to DO, but recently, it’s been hard to get into a rhythm. It’s been so nice out – so some days I want to come home, sit outside with a glass of wine and read cookbooks instead of, well, actually cooking. Sometimes, the day just takes a toll on me and I’m exhausted by the time I get home!

I guess my point is – yes, there are some days where cooking doesn’t seem like a delight to me – but a chore. I get tired. I get lazy. I get frustrated. And I love to cook!

Usually, these days come after several back to back days of recipes and meals that dirty up lots of dishes. I seriously love all of my new pots, pans and knives – but I hate having to hand wash and dry them all. Why can’t everything be dishwasher safe?!

So this is the point in time when the whole diet thing could come crashing down. But luckily, I have back-up plans for when the thought of planning a three-course meal that uses 4 knives, 3 pots, 2 baking dishes (and a partridge in a pear tree) makes me cringe.

Exhibit A:

Baked Potatoes. It’s so easy to throw scrub a potato and throw it in the oven and find something to do for the hour and 15 minutes or so. Usually my potato includes some butter spray, fat-free cheddar, salt, pepper and barbecue sauce.

But a few weeks ago, I was dying for something spicy! So I decided to make a Buffalo Baked Potato. I added some spray butter, salt and pepper (the base of all my baked potatoes). Then I added some reduced fat blue cheese crumbles, hot sauce, celery, fat-free shredded mozzarella and more hot sauce! It was quite delicious.

Exhibit B:

Another easy thing to throw together that’s also filling is a hoagie of some sort.  Remember when I said I wanted to try to make a shrimp po’ boy with some easy faux fried shrimp? I did and it was delicious! I just sprayed some butter on the bread and sprinkled with garlic salt and baked for a few minutes before topping with shrimp, sauce and some lettuce.

Exhibit C:

Now this last one was just something I had to do. I was in Target last week (anybody else have to go to like, 3 stores to get everything they need? Reduced-fat and non-fat dairy products have me running around like a crazy person) and I noticed a new Jennie-O product. Turkey cocktail sausages/weenies. Or as my family knows and loves them “Smokies.”

I was talking to my Biffer this weekend while she was at the beach (so jealous) and she was up in the condo making lunch. I asked her what she was making and she said “Smokies!” I started salivating. I had to try the “diet” version…even though the husband kind of looked grossed out when I told him what “Smokie Sandwiches” were. Embrace it people, don’t fear it!

Heat your oven to 350.

So you take some smokies (I used 20 total) and cut them in half. Heat up a skillet with a few sprays of olive oil. Add the smokies and cook over medium for 5-7 minutes. Flip and cook another 5-7 minutes until they are all cooked through and have a nice dark color to them.

                                     

In the meantime, take 4 slices of rye bread (this was for 2 sandwiches) and lay them on a sheet of foil and place on a baking sheet. Take 2 slices of reduced-fat Swiss cheese and break into pieces, covering one half of each sandwich. Bake for 5-6 minutes until cheese melts. I added a little caraway seed since the bread didn’t have any.

Arrange your smokies on top of the cheese.

Spread spicy mustard on the top half of the sandwich…and maaaybe drizzle a little over the smokies.

Serve with some sauerkraut…I have to have mine on the side because I’m a weirdo. That, and I eat really slowly and hate my bread getting soggy. I know, I know I have issues.

So moral of the story? A meal doesn’t always have to be elaborate or take a ton of ingredients – but you don’t have to sacrifice healthy for quick/easy! Now THAT is Cooking on the Bright Side!

 

Cheese Steak Pizza

It’s time for another edition of “Faux Bar Food Friday!” Get excited. No really, are you excited yet?

I’m sure a lot of people will be gathering at their local watering hole for a cold beverage (or 2 – hey, I don’t judge) this weekend for one of several reasons:

A) It’s the weekend. Duh.

B) St. Patrick’s Day. Green beer. Good luck. And kissing for various reasons, like being Irish. Kiss me, I cook. Pucker up hubby! 😉

C) Um, March Madness? (Go Tigers Go!)

D) Spring Break ending or beginning. In which case I hate you because you still have spring break. Not really…more like I’m really jealous.

E) All of the above. Which really makes me miss my last spring break…a week during which a small group of my fellow classmates were surprisingly studious, but still managed to forge some great friendships over classwork, college basketball and cold beer. Ah, the good ol’ days.

I digress.

Regardless of which category you fall into – and even if you decide to hang out in the comfort of your own home – you gotta eat, right?

So I think you should make a delicious and very filling pizza. Because I care about you. And because well, it’s just so darn good! We’ve surpassed the traditional sauce and pepperoni pizza. I throw on steak sauce. And, um, steak. And vegetables – because they make this “healthy”. And of course, cheese. Even my cheese-loathing sister might approve of this recipe.

Do yourself a favor and make plans to throw this one together. There are many things you might regret while enjoying spring break, St. Patty’s or hours of watching basketball in a bar…but at least this recipe is one thing you can look back on with pride.

Cheese Steak Pizza (serves 2)

Pizza Crust

3/4 cup white whole-wheat flour

1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 Tbsp. honey

1 tsp. salt

1/4 cup warm water

1/2 tsp. dry active yeast

Mix together flour and salt in a medium bowl. Pour warm water in a small bowl. Add olive oil, yeast and honey and whisk with a fork. Let sit 7-10 minutes until “foamy.” Add liquid to flour and mix until combined. Cover and let rest in a warm area to rise, usually 1-2 hours.

Cheese Steak Topping

6 oz. tenderized cube steak (it has the “lines” in it)

1 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 bell pepper, sliced

1/2 small onion, sliced

Steak Sauce (I used A1)

5 slices reduced-fat Provolone cheese

1/2 cup fat-free mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat your skillet to medium and add Worcestershire sauce. Slice your steak along the lines.

Add steak to hot skillet with salt and pepper. Cook 2-3 minutes and flip.

Add your sliced bell peppers and onions. Saute with steak for 5-7 minutes until vegetables are tender and steak is cooked through.

Roll out your pizza dough and stretch out onto a lightly greased pan.

Add 4 tablespoons of steak sauce and use a spoon to spread out evenly on the pizza crust. (I also sprayed my crust with a little olive oil and sprinkled with garlic salt before adding the sauce.)

Then, add your steak and vegetables.

Take your slices of provolone cheese and arrange on top, covering as much surface area as you can.

Fill in the gaps with your shredded mozzarella.

Cook pizza for 15-20 minutes until crust is crispy and cheese has melted.

Slice, serve and enjoy! It’s the weekend after all, and we all have a reason to celebrate!

Happy Friday everybody!

Creole Stew

So here in the fine city of Memphis, TN – the weather is getting glorious! I say this as I am sitting outside on my patio drinking a glass (okay, so it’s my second – rough day people!) of wine and soaking up what I don’t get to soak up being confined to a cubicle until 5pm.

Anywhoo – the weather is really making me want to get to grilling. However, Sunday was a bit of a dreary day. Dreary days make me want comfort food – like soup. I realized I hadn’t shared one of our favorite soups with you – although it’s more like a “stew.”

As I’ve mentioned before, my mom grew up on the coast of Mississippi and so I grew up learning to love fresh seafood and things like gumbo. While I do have a fabulous gumbo recipe I will eventually share (also weight watchers friendly) – sometimes, I just don’t have the time (or energy) to prepare the roux, chop lots of veggies and let something simmer for a few hours.

Enter this stew. I got the recipe from a co-worker of mine and it was easy enough to adapt and “healthify” – so if you’re looking for a little bit of Cajun flavor that’s easy to come by, look no further! It’s seriously so easy to make – the most time-consuming part is chopping a pepper and removing casing (I know, it can be gross) from the sausage! It could almost be considered a gumbo, without all of the tedious work!

Creole Stew (Serves 2-4)

I'm sorry my hideous outlet is always in the picture...perhaps we can come up with a name for him? (Or her - but it looks like a him to me!)

2 tsp. olive oil

1 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 tsp. minced garlic

6 oz. Jennie-O hot turkey sausage (2 links)

3/4 cup chicken broth

10 oz. diced tomatoes with chiles (1 can Ro-Tel is best)

15 oz. pinto beans, drained

8 oz. pre-cooked shrimp, tails removed

2 Tbsp. parsley

1 cup cooked white rice (I use Minute Rice)

Heat oil in a medium saucepan on medium heat and add bell pepper and garlic. Saute 5-7 minutes, until pepper are tender.

Now, for the sausage – you will need to remove the casing. It seems really gross (as you can see below) but it’s pretty simple and quite frankly, it’s just easier to cook!

Break off little chunks of the sausage every 1/2 inch or so and add to the pan with the bell pepper and garlic.

Brown the sausage on all sides until cooked through.

Add your chicken broth.

Add your tomatoes (note – I only had some fire roasted tomatoes but they were a little sweet and the chunks were a little larger than I prefer – I’d stick with Ro-tel.)

Then add your drained and rinsed pinto beans.

Throw in your de-tailed shrimp on top.

Stir until everything is combined and reduce heat to low.

Cook for 15-20 minutes until simmering.

In the meantime…cook your rice. It’s called “Minute” rice for a reason – takes no time at all! Half a cup of water, half a cup of rice.

When the stew is ready, pour into your bowls and top with 1/4 cup rice per serving.

This makes 4 servings – but it’s 7 WW points per serving, so for a big dinner, you can go ahead and go back for seconds. Or save the rest for a delicious lunch the next day. Your co-workers will be very very jealous.

Hurry up and make this because I’m about to break out the grill – and you won’t want to miss those recipes!

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

So remember last Friday I told you how we love our faux “bar food” on Fridays? I was serious.

Last weekend was pretty glorious weather-wise. Friday after work, the husband and I were able to sit out on our patio and enjoy a few drinks. It’s always a nice way to wrap up the work week, in my humble opinion. Then we ate dinner and watched a movie. A perfect, low-key evening. I guess like a calm before the storm, because Saturday was so busy I don’t think I caught my breath until we sat down in a movie theater!

Anyways, I had picked up some ground chicken at the grocery store and I wanted to try something new to share with you. Of course, I take pictures of these things as I create them and only share them if they are successful…allow me to say, these totally were. It’s like fancied up hot wings without the mess! I also took a cue from my ranch fries and threw some ranch seasoning in my mashed potatoes and it was the perfect combination!

So if you’re looking for something delicious and nutritious to make without giving up your craving for hot wings – here you go my friends! Who thought 6 little points could be oh so delicious?

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs (serves 2)

8 oz. ground chicken breast

1 Tbsp. yellow onion, minced

1 1/2 Tbsp. celery, minced

1 Tbsp. parsley

3/4 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

3 Tbsp. reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles

1/3 cup Frank’s red-hot sauce (maybe a little less if you can’t handle the heat!)

1 Tbsp. reduced-calorie margarine

1 Tbsp. honey

Add your ground chicken to a medium bowl. Chop your celery and onion very fine – remember it’s going in a meatball, so you don’t want huge chunks!

Throw in spices and mix together well. If you use your hands, I suggest spraying a little cooking spray. The chicken breast is very “wet” so it tends to stick!

Definitely “coat” your hands when forming the meatballs. I made 10 meatballs with mine.

Heat oil in medium skillet. Add meatballs and cook about 2 minutes per side. I even try to stand mine up on the sides so it gets that good coating all the way around.

While meatballs are cooking, melt your margarine in a medium saucepan. Add hot sauce and honey. Whisk until incorporated. You can always play with this – but it will impact the points if you add more honey and/or margarine.

When your meatballs are cooked through, pour sauce into the skillet and stir meatballs around and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Then serve…preferably with some mashed potatoes with a little ranch seasoning thrown in! 😉

You know you want them…

Have a great weekend everybody!

 

Shaved Asparagus Pizza

So we may have gotten a little out of the habit the past few months, but I’ve started bringing back “Meatless Monday.” Just a little break to appreciate your fruits and veggies!

When we first started doing this, I relied heavily on black bean burgers. That’s not a bad thing – because they are delicious! A few months ago, I decided to make a vegetarian pizza – but I was allll out of pizza sauce. What’s a girl to do?

Um, use cheese. Duh.

I originally used Light Boursin cheese – which is oh so amazing. However, I had purchased  some of the Philadelphia cooking creme (used it in my pierogi recipe) so I decided to test it out. Verdict? You can’t lose. Honestly.

Shaved Asparagus Pizza (serves 2)

Wheat Crust

3/4 white wheat flour

1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 Tbsp. honey

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. yeast

1/4 cup warm water

Mix together flour and salt. In a small bowl, add yeast, honey and olive oil to warm water and mix, then let sit 5-7 minutes. Add liquid to flour and mix until well blended. Cover and let rise 1-2 hours.

Topping

4 oz. shaved asparagus

1/4 cup Philadelphia Italian Herb and Cheese Cooking Creme, reduced fat

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, fat-free

Olive oil spray

Black pepper

Garlic salt

Italian herb seasoning

Preheat oven to 375.

Roll out your dough either into one large pizza, or two individual pizzas. (We like our own pizza for some reason!)

Spray each with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt and Italian herb seasoning.

Spread about 2 Tbsp. cooking creme on each pizza, just a light layer. This serves as your “sauce” – yes, that is as amazing as it sounds.

Next, add your shaved asparagus. To shave asparagus, you just need a basic veggie peeler. Peel the asparagus until it is in pretty little slivers and curls! You can add a lot more if you want because it cooks down!

Top asparagus with some cracked pepper, and then add mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 15-17 minutes, until crust is crispy and cheese has melted.

Slice and serve. This is such an easy dish to throw together – and I’m sure it would be great cut into multiple slivers and served as an appetizer!


Now try to tell me you even miss meat in this dish…