Bang Bang Shrimp – Lightened Up

I would hope the fact that I love cooking is clear to you all by now, considering I have started this blog about how much I love cooking.

As much as I love it, it is such a nice treat when I don’t have to cook sometimes. Now that can mean ordering pizza if I’m lacking energy and the husband and I need a low-key night with a movie from Redbox. But sometimes, it’s nice to have a date night where the husband and I get to go out somewhere nice where we get to sit down, be waited on, drink a glass of wine and use cloth napkins!

So one of our go-to places is Bonefish Grill. It’s a great atmosphere, they make great cocktails (hellloooo Pomegranate martinis) and the food. Well, the food is always delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever walked out of there anything less than satisfied completely stuffed!

Well, if you’ve ever been you know one of their appetizers that they are well-known for is their “Bang Bang Shrimp” – delicious fried shrimp in a yummy spicy sauce.

So, I tried my hand at re-creating it in a “lightened-up” way – it obviously doesn’t taste exactly the same – but I think it’s pretty bangin’ delicious! I made this for a main course, but I’m sure you could serve it as a delicious appetizer for a few people as well!

Lightened Up “Bang Bang Shrimp” (serves 2)

8 oz. uncooked medium shrimp

1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch

2 1/2 Tbsp. fat-free mayonnaise

1 1/2 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce

1/2 tsp. Sriracha sauce

2 tsp. canola oil

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1/8 tsp. onion powder

2 tsp.. whole wheat white flour

1/2 Tbsp. panko bread crumbs (plain)

In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, chili sauce and Sriracha until smooth.

Remove tails from shrimp and heat oil in skillet.

Toss bread crumbs, cornstarch, flour, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper together in a bag or bowl. Add shrimp to mixture and coat.

Add shrimp to oil in a single layer and saute for 3-4 minutes until crisp and lightly browned. Flip shrimp and cook another 2-3 minutes.

Turn off heat and add sauce to shrimp, tossing to coat.

Serve and devour!

You could add to a bed of lettuce, but I was fresh out and just had to lick the plate…

A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!

Homemade Guacamole

Man oh man. These past 2 weeks have been absolute insanity for me and it has certainly been reflected in my lack of blogging – and I apologize for that!

As you know based on my naughty post, the husband recently celebrated his birthday. As did my middle nephew. So there have been parties and dinners to attend!

Also, last week my group at work had a department retreat which was so much fun, but you know when you go out singing karaoke on a Tuesday night – Wednesday might be rough – especially when you are in one big meeting all day! It was such a blast, but wow was I drained the rest of the week from it!

Having my parents dogs around did not do much to keep me from being lazy…

Watching a movie in bed...

…until this weekend, when I started going through my room of shame (read: spare room filled with “junk”) to sort through and label for a garage sale.

The husband and I decided to go out that night and we tried a new Mexican place (well, it was new to me!) – I’m very picky and don’t do the “hole in the wall” thing very well for Mexican or Chinese. So we were expanding my horizons.

I read reviews online and heard about their guacamole – and it did not disappoint! The interesting part of it was that the avocado is left in large chunks and then mixed with the other ingredients. Delicious, but I do like my guacamole to stay on the chip without careful maneuvering!

Luckily, I had some avocados hanging out in my fridge that needed to be used – so I tried my hand (oddly enough, my first time ever) at making homemade guacamole! I wasn’t incredibly diligent with measurements, so just start off small and add as you go. Remember – you can always add more, but you can’t “take away”!

Homemade Guacamole

3 ripe avocados

1 medium tomato

1 lime

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro (if you have it)

1-2 Tbsp. onion, minced

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. minced garlic

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. dried cilantro (if you don’t have fresh)

Dashes of cumin, cayenne pepper and garlic powder.

Dashes of Tabasco

Begin by coring your avocados. I just take my knife and slice down one side until I hit the pit, and then turn the avocado and continue cutting. Once I’ve made it all the way around, I twist and voila – two perfect (ish) avocado halves!

Now simply remove the pit and scoop out the meat!

Add avocado to a bowl and smash with a fork until you’ve reached your almost desired consistency – I don’t think it warrants a food processor unless you’re really making a big batch!

Add salt, cumin, cilantro, pepper, cayenne and garlic powder. Dice your tomato and mince your onion and add to the avocado.

Add lime juice, hot sauce and garlic and stir until incorporated.

Refrigerate until you are ready to eat! We had taco night at home – but I just ate my guac with some baked tortilla chips…

While the husband enjoyed his on his actual tacos…and on some chips too!

This is such a yummy dish that is great to enjoy during the summer – even if Mexican isn’t on the menu for the main course!

A Naughty Post…

When I was toying with the notion of starting a blog, it was tough for me to pick a name that conveyed what I wanted it to convey. That cooking could be fun. That preparing healthy meals isn’t as insanely difficult as it seemed. And that delicious meals didn’t take hours of preparation.

I originally wanted to do a blog about cooking on the “light” side – but I realized that would paint me into a corner. I have always loved cooking – long before I started losing the weight. That just made it even more fun for me! Now, no fear – a majority of these recipes I have taken the liberty of reducing – but sometimes, you can splurge!

So I landed on this title so that I could have some flexibility.

Last week was the husband’s birthday – so there was a lot of flexibility when it came to our meals. That included pizza from our favorite place.

Also, I may have mentioned before that baking is not exactly my favorite thing in the word. I like playing with spices and flavors, and baking much more, well, scientific. However, the husband loves baked goods! And he loves peanut butter and chocolate combinations. And I love him. And it was his birthday. So I wanted to bake him a special birthday treat!

All of this is to say, I love my husband SO much, that I now present you with a very non-diet friendly baked good. I started on Pinterest, and ended up landing here.

It is, very very naughty. But in the very best way possible. Like seriously, you will want to punch me in the face and then give me a big giant smooch.

Pretzel Crusted Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie

Oh, I finally named my outlet - meet "Sparky"!

1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels

1/2 cup sugar

6 Tbsp. butter, melted

2 sticks butter, room temperature

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. kosher salt

2 1/4 cup white whole-wheat flour

1 cup milk chocolate chips

1 (8 oz.) bag Reese’s mini cups

Preheat oven to 350.

Crush your pretzels and mix with melted butter and 1/2 cup sugar.

Press into the bottom of a pie dish. I covered the bottom and went about 1/4 the way up the sides. Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven.

Cream together butter, sugar and brown sugar.

Add vanilla and eggs and beat until combined.

Add in baking soda, salt and flour. Scrape sides to ensure everything is mixed well.

Fold in chocolate chips.

Then fold in peanut butter cups.

Mix until well incorporated.

Pour and press into crust as well as you can – as you don’t want to press too hard and break the crust. The heat will allow the “cookie” to spread.

Bake pie for 30-35 minutes. I ended up baking mine for about 40 minutes until set.

Allow to cool before serving.

I would highly recommend throwing some ice cream on top. Because what’s a little ice cream at this point, right?

Enjoy and thanks for reading!

Shrimp Scampi

Once upon a time, when we weren’t married and didn’t own a home, the husband (previously “the boyfriend”) and I would spend time at each others residences. I lived in an apartment and he shared a house with 2 other guys, which was surprisingly way cleaner than you would ever imagine.

So, I loved going over there and cooking! We’d rotate weeks – particularly when our favorite show “24” came on each Monday night. It was fun – I loved that he could cook. And as I said before, he loved that about me as well – in fact, I think that’s how I tricked him into marrying me! 😉

We were craving something with seafood and pasta one night – but something that just tasted light and was easy. So, I introduced him to Shrimp Scampi. Now, back then – we were okay loading up on the pasta and the butter. Obviously, that’s not so WW friendly. But have no fear my followers (or people who I guilt into coming here by posting my recipes on Facebook!) – this one was easy to lighten up. And it’s easy to make. And, of course, it’s totally delicious.

Shrimp Scampi (serves 2)

8 oz. cooked shrimp, tails removed

4 oz. whole wheat spaghetti

2 Tbsp. reduced-calorie margarine

2 tsp. olive oil

1 clove minced garlic

Lemons – (1/2 of one lemon zested, 1/2 Tbsp. juice, 1/2 a lemon sliced)

2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

2 Tbsp. parsley

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan for the pasta. Add pasta to water and cook according to directions.

Melt butter and olive oil in a medium skillet and add garlic. Stir until melted and cook about 1 minute.

Remove tails from shrimp and pat dry. Add to skillet along with salt and pepper. Cook about 3 minutes, then flip and cook an additional 3-4 minutes until cooked through.

On the side, prepare your lemon zest. I find it’s easiest to zest over wax paper. I have to say that my zester is my favorite kitchen gadget – you just move it back and forth over the lemon and collect the zest on the wax paper.

When shrimp are done cooking, remove from heat and add parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slices and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine.

Drain cooked pasta and add back to pot. Pour shrimp and sauce over pasta and toss to coat.

And voila, dinner is done in less than 30 minutes! Goes great with some crusty bread or a crisp salad.

Thanks for reading!

Spinach Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

It’s Friday. That means it’s the weekend! I only have to remind myself of this because I woke up Wednesday and thought it was Saturday…and I can’t even blame NyQuil!

Normally I try to throw some faux bar food your way on Fridays…but this was just so good that I had to share with you so that you could break out your grill and try this while you’re busy making deviled eggs for Easter Sunday!

Speaking of which – what is everybody making for Easter? We are splitting up duties this year…I think we had to talk my mom into letting us help so the entire meal wasn’t all on her! She’ll be doing ham, scalloped potatoes and her amazingly delicious popovers! (As long as my dad doesn’t open up the oven to “see what’s in there” – they always turn out great!). My Biffer is making a delicious green bean and corn casserole and a mandarin orange salad.

I’m in charge of deviled eggs (WW friendly people, it’s all about the fat-free mayo and the right seasoning!). I’ve also volunteered myself for the dessert. That scares me – since, you know, I’m not a huge fan of baking! Any delicious Easter dessert recipe ideas? I’m thinking some sort of strawberry delicacy – I’m sure whatever I make, I’ll share with you (as long as it doesn’t turn out horribly).

Anyways, with the beautiful weather we had this past weekend, grilling was on my mind. Not desserts. But I needed something that didn’t require a lot of marinating time or hovering – I had been shopping all day and was just plain exhausted! =)

Good thing I picked up a pork tenderloin at the store! This recipe is great because you can start it off in the oven and then transfer it to the grill and it really takes no maintenance at all! Just a few ingredients and you have a delicious dish that is sure to impress – especially since it’s WW friendly!

Spinach Stuffed Pork Tenderloin (serves 2-3)

1 pre-packaged Hormel Always Tender Pork Tenderloin, original (about 1 pound)

4 oz. frozen chopped spinach

2 wedges Laughing Cow Garlic and Herb cheese

1 oz. fat-free feta cheese

3-4 Tbsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. onion powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Remove tenderloin from package and rinse.

Preheat oven to 350.

Sprinkle with chili powder, rubbing to completely coat the entire tenderloin.

Slice tenderloin about 3/4 of the way through.

Cook spinach in microwave until warm. Add cheese wedges to a small bowl and add hot spinach, stirring to melt cheese and incorporate.

Add your garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper. Then throw in your feta. Mix well.

Spoon spinach mixture into the center of the tenderloin. Secure with a few toothpicks.

Bake for 20 minutes in the oven. In the meantime, heat your grill to medium.

Transfer tenderloin to the grill and cook for another 20 minutes.

I threw some corn on the cob and potato slices on with the tenderloin, did not have to dirty up many dishes for this feast!

Remove from grill, cover and let stand about 5 minutes.

Slice and serve with your sides and an ice-cold beer. It’s a super easy, low-maintenance dish that is pretty much great with anything – just don’t forget to remove the toothpicks!

Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Easter everybody!

Squash Boats

I love fresh produce. There is something about walking into a grocery store and surveying all of the yummy, crisp and bright fruits and vegetables. Often times I’ll have a list of things I know I need, but I leave the “produce” section of my list with a few T.B.D.spaces.

Obviously I like to go the store with a purpose…otherwise, I have a lot of fresh fruits vegetables that are not so appealing a week later. So I’ve kind of trained myself to only buy veggies for a week or so at a time. Meal planning has not been my forte in the past, but I have certainly gotten much better about it! I just think it’s fun to go in and see what looks fresh and imagine some delicious side dishes I can make or veggies I can throw into a main course to add some flavor and some color. Too much planning can be disappointing – sometimes the selection isn’t great or it’s completely out (I’ve had kale on my list multiple times and had to find a “plan B”).

Well, one of our absolute favorite side dishes (which is also incredibly WW friendly) involves a lot of vegetables! And cheese. And bacon. And butter. Okay, so I use the light versions of those three ingredients – but still, it’s amazing. These are also really easy to prepare ahead of time – and your guests (or spouse) will be thoroughly impressed with this fancy looking side dish!

Squash Boats (serves 4)

Pretend there is a red bell pepper here...and bacon. =)

2 medium to large yellow squash

1/2 cup chopped tomato

1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced

1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. white pepper

2 Tbsp. fat-free shredded Cheddar

2 slices turkey bacon

Butter spray

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add squash. Cook 10-12 minutes.

Cut up your tomato, bell peppers and onion. Add cheese, salt and pepper. Mix and refrigerate until ready to use.

Cook bacon until crisp. Crumble and set aside.

Heat your oven to 350.

Slice squash in half. You may need to let it cool so that you don’t burn your hands! Scoop out the “flesh” (aka seeds and string).

Set hollowed squash halves in a lightly greased baking dish.

Add crumbled bacon to vegetable mixture. (I just ended up using some Bacon Bits). Spoon mixture into squash halves and spray with some butter spray.

Bake for 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and boats are heated through.

You can easily adapt these – I leave cheese off one or two when my sister is dining with me. I’m sure you can add some other veggies and make them your own! I made some cold ones a while back with avocado, cucumber, tomato, onion and a lime vinaigrette!

These are SO good for you that you can even make this into just 2 servings…nothing wrong with eating your veggies!

Thanks for reading!

Chocolate Chip Scones with a Peanut Butter Glaze

I seriously cannot believe it is April! The husband and I hit the 6-month-as-a-married-couple mark on April Fool’s Day. Seemed fitting considering it certainly doesn’t feel like that long. Somebody must be running ahead of me and messing with calendars!

Now, if you asked me what time of year it was judging by the weather – it certainly would not be early April! I believe Memphis just had a few months of “Wintring” this year, combining winter and spring. I mean, it’s 90 degrees! I wore jeans and a 3/4 sleeve shirt yesterday with flip-flops and I almost broke into a sweat loading my groceries into my car!

Anyways, with all of the gorgeous weather out – I managed to read 2 books during my patio time after work. It was nice – I feel like I’d been gluing myself to the tv lately just to “relax”. I have always loved reading but I’m so much better about doing it on vacations – but I don’t need a beach to enjoy a book! It relaxes me and makes me so happy to get lost in a good story. I read “Something Borrowed” – which quite honestly just made me angry, so I had to read “Something Blue” and it did help reduce the anger a little.

Well, by the time Friday rolled around I realized I was supposed to have something to make for our Sunday school! Our class was just doing a potluck type deal for breakfast. Since the husband and I go to early service, a breakfast casserole would be tricky to have it made early and then sit in the car for 1 1/2 hours. I figured baking something like muffins would be good, but when I hit the internet, I found these gems and did not look back!

I had never in my life made scones (maybe only eaten them once) but just something about these called to me. And I am glad they did.

Chocolate Chip Scones with a Peanut Butter Glaze  (makes 32 mini scones)


2 cups white-whole wheat flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter

3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup reduced-fat buttermilk

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp. Vanilla

1 Tbsp. fat-free milk

Peanut Butter Glaze:

3/4 cups sifted powdered sugar

2 Tbsp. fat-free milk

2 Tbsp. reduced-fat creamy peanut butter

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 425. Line baking sheet with a baking mat.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Cut butter into 1/2 Tbsp. pieces and add to flour mixture. Cut into mixture with a pastry cutter until it becomes coarse and crumbly.

Add buttermilk, vanilla, egg and chocolate chips. Stir until just combined.

Transfer dough to lightly floured surface and knead a few times with your hands. Take half of the dough and roll into a rectangle shape, about 1/4 inch thick. Use a pastry knife to trim with precision.

Cut dough length-wise down the center of your rectangle. Then cut into 8 equal squares. Cut each square diagonally, leaving 16 triangles.

Repeat with remaining dough.

Place scones on baking mat and brush the tops with the 1 Tbsp. milk.

Bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove and let cool. Don’t burn your fingers trying to steal on right out of the oven…I may or may not be speaking from experience!

For the glaze, whisk all ingredients together until smooth.

It’s not entirely necessary, because the chocolate chip scones on their own are, well, amazing…

But you know that peanut butter and chocolate kinda belong together, right? So it would just be sad to get in the way of fate…