Shrimp Salsa

So last week while on vacation, I thought I might get a chance to update the blog or post a delicious new recipe.

Obviously…that didn’t quite happen.

Y’all, I don’t know what it was – but I just didn’t want anything to do with technology! Other than watching a few episodes of a TV show we brought on DVD and letting the world know that my amazing husband passed his big exam via Facebook, I completely immersed myself in books and enjoyed sticking my head in the proverbial sand.

Okay, so it was my feet in the sand, but you get the picture.

Anyways – the husband and I had an amazing 7 days full of sunshine (well, mostly!), cold beer, crashing waves, delicious seafood, ocean breezes, good books, late night balcony talks and of course, celebrating his big accomplishment!

I think we ate something with seafood every single day – including 2 different types of delicious baked oysters smothered in cheese! We also had crab legs, grouper cheeks (yes, cheeks, and they were ridiculously good!), smoked tuna dip, gumbo and a pizza that was topped with Cajun grilled shrimp.

I know I’ve told y’all how much I love shrimp and how versatile it is. Well, I finally tried a recipe I’d been dying to test out that I found on SkinnyTaste that is a homemade salsa – with the main ingredient being shrimp. It is so incredibly refreshing during these hot summer months – just pair with a cold beverage (I mean, it doesn’t have to be a beer), kick back on the patio and enjoy!

Shrimp Salsa (Serves 4  / 2 WW pts. per serving / adapted from “SkinnyTaste“)

8 oz. pre-cooked shrimp

2 medium tomatoes

3 Tbsp. red onion, diced

2 Tbsp. fresh jalapeno, diced

1 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped

2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper

Pinch garlic powder

Tortilla chips (I tried Garden of Eatin’ Red Hot Blues Chips, they are sprinkled with cayenne and have a great kick to them!)

Remove tails from shrimp and pat dry. Chop shrimp into 3 or 4 pieces each.

Chop your tomatoes and dice your onion. Add to a medium bowl and add lime juice, salt and pepper. Mix and let sit for 5 minutes.

Add chopped jalapeno, cilantro and shrimp to bowl. Mix well and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Taste and add salt if necessary.

This is even better after a day or so when all of the flavors have really blended…so don’t be afraid to double the recipe if you are expecting a crowd!

Remove from the refrigerator, grab your chips and dig in!

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Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Chicken

Happy Friday everybody! It’s been a while since I’ve thrown some sort of healthy “bar food” twist at you.

Now, we love spicy in our house – as if you couldn’t tell from the bajillion buffalo flavored recipes I’ve thrown at you. But seriously, we have quite the collection of hot sauces in the refrigerator and always seem to be out of Tabasco even though I know I just bought the big giant bottle last week!

Well, over the 4th of July I tried a new jalapeno popper recipe and it was pretty much amazing. I’d made jalapeno poppers before and had never had issues with burning hands or anything from scooping out seeds even when I dissected like, 24 jalapenos! I always read people saying “use gloves” and think , “psh, wimps.” Um, I don’t know if I got my hands on a super potent batch or what, but the next day driving to work – my hands felt like they were on fire. I poured rubbing alcohol on them later that day because I read that would help! Ugh, I vowed to take jalapenos seriously from that point on!

I still love jalapenos even if they were cruel to me, so I decided to approach them very humbly. By mixing them with cheese, stuffing them in chicken and savoring every delicious bite. We are friends again thanks to the delicious jalapeno popper stuffed chicken recipe I came across on one of my favorite cooking blogs! I promise this isn’t too spicy as long as you (very carefully, might I add) remove the seeds and membrane. Leave some of it if you feel like living on the edge – but whatever you do, make this!

Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Chicken (serves 2/10 WW pts. – adapted from SkinnyTaste)

2 chicken breasts (12 oz. total)

1 medium jalapeno, diced

1 slice turkey bacon, cooked

2 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

2 wedges, Laughing Cow Garlic and Herb cheese

1 Tbsp. scallions, chopped

1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

1/4 cup bread crumbs (I used Panko)

2 tsp. white whole-wheat flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 450.

Mix together cheeses, bacon, scallions and jalapeno in a small bowl.

In a shallow bowl, whisk together lime juice and olive oil.

On a plate, mix together bread crumbs and flour.

Now, trim chicken of any nasty bits (I’m a freak about this) and lay between two pieces of wax paper. Using a meat mallet (or wine bottle, rolling-pin, etc.) pound chicken until flattened to about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thickness. Set some toothpicks out.

Spread half of the cheese/jalapeno mixture in the center of the chicken, working your way out. Leave a small border without the cheese. Begin rolling your chicken (I start with the bigger end) and secure with toothpicks in the center. Seal the ends with toothpicks as well. It is okay if some filling comes out while baking…especially because it creates yummy burnt cheese!

Salt and pepper your chicken and dip in the olive oil and lime juice mixture.

Next, dredge in the crumb mixture. With the toothpicks, it’s a little tough – so you can press the crumbs into the chicken by hand.

Add chicken breasts to a non-stick baking dish and bake for 22-25 minutes.

Don’t forget to remove your toothpicks – but you might want to wait until after it cools a little!

Then it’s time to dig in. I may be a nerd, but my favorite part was cutting into the chicken to see this delicious pocket of cheesy, jalapeno-y (why not?) awesomeness…

That’s a thing of beauty my friends!

Hope y’all have a great weekend!

 

Breakfast for Dinner – Skillet Hash

So I don’t know about y’all, but I absolutely love breakfast food. I learned to make omelets at a young age and thought it was the coolest thing ever to customize for my parents and any house guests.  Now pancakes and waffles…eh, I’ll take em – but I prefer the very traditional biscuits, eggs, sausage, bacon and occasionally hash browns!

Any chance we have to get brunch, I’m all in! But I’m amazed when my husband will opt for a burger or sandwich instead of breakfast food! Especially if there’s a Bloody Mary involved! A few times when I’ve been looking at the semi-empty pantry and find myself at a loss for dinner plans, the hubby has suggested breakfast for dinner. Shockingly, I’ve never gone for it. Until recently when I tried my hand at a skillet hash.

This is so easy to throw together and it’s incredibly delicious! The potatoes definitely fill you up and the kielbasa gives this such a great flavor. Next time, I might add some chopped bacon as well, cause you know, why not?

Skillet Hash (serves 2 / 11 WW points per serving)

1 1/2 medium potatoes

1 Tbsp. butter

4 oz. Turkey kielbasa

1/2 small yellow onion, chopped

1/2 tsp. caraway seeds

1/2 tsp. olive oil

4 eggs

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. pepper

1/2 Tbsp. dried parsley

1 scallion, chopped

Tabasco (as needed)

“I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” spray (as needed)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap potatoes in foil and bake for 45 minutes. Once they have cooled, dice into large chunks. Keep oven on.

Chop kielbasa into medium pieces. Melt butter in a medium skillet on medium heat and cook kielbasa.

Add onion to kielbasa, along with caraway seed.

Add potatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and flatten hash into a single layer.

Turn heat to medium-high and cook for 4-5 minutes until browned. Working in sections (4 is good) flip and brown the other sides. I used a little butter spray here to keep flavor and moisture.

At this point, if you have a cast iron skillet, crack 4 eggs (evenly distributed, of course) on top of the hash and add pan to the oven.

If you’re a bad southerner like me do not own a cast iron skillet, locate 2 small baking dishes/pans and divide hash evenly between them. Crack 2 eggs in each and add to oven.

You will bake this for about 10-12 minutes, until eggs are just set.

Remove from oven and top with parsley and scallions. Add a few shakes of Tabasco and whatever else your heart desires.

Dig in and enjoy being a rebel by having breakfast for dinner…

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

So it’s been a whole like, 5 blog posts since I did something buffalo-flavored so I just have to go ahead and rectify that issue.

When I started doing the weight watchers thing, I loved the frozen meals that already had the points included. I had a few favorites that I’d load up on during sales at the grocery stores! After a while though, I got bored. I’d walk to the freezer at work and look at my lunch for the day and think “Yuck.”

The problem is that when I cook recipes, I usually cook for two so it’s rare to have too many leftovers for lunch. So I decided to just make lunch dishes while making dinner!

I found that bringing a nice cold pasta salad for work is always refreshing (like the one I showed you last week) – and a homemade dish never makes me think “Yuck” as lunch time approaches! You should definitely give this one a try!

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad (Serves 4 / 7 WW pts. per serving)

5 oz. penne pasta (enriched or whole wheat)

1 c. cooked chicken breast, shredded

1/2 c. carrot, chopped

1/2 c. celery, chopped

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 c. Frank’s red hot sauce + 1 Tbsp. if desired

1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

1/8 tsp. onion powder

1/8 tsp. celery salt

1/2 cup reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles

In a medium pot, bring water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions. Drain and set aside.

Cook chicken by boiling or baking and shred with two forks. 

Add chicken to drained pasta.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, hot sauce, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder and celery salt.

Add chopped carrots and celery to chicken and pasta. Then add your blue cheese crumbles.

Drizzle the dressing over the top and toss until combined. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Serve cold…and enjoy a delicious lunch that beats anything you stick in the microwave…

Mexican Dip

Um, so here’s the deal. I love making appetizers and party food – I think I could eat finger foods for meals 5 days out of the week and be perfectly content!

One of my favorite “party food” recipes (read: super easy) is a Mexican Dip my mom passed along to my sister and I. It’s seriously easy and is always a big hit. I am pretty sure it’s the first thing to disappear at any gathering.

So for our 4th of July celebration (which we held on Tuesday, because who wants to go to work after a night of celebrating?) my husband really wanted to make some pulled pork and have tacos. I know, tacos for the 4th sounds crazy, right? But it was a fun little food theme and nobody really seemed to mind. Especially when I busted out the Mexican Party Dip. This recipe is so easy to “lighten up” by using fat-free cream cheese, turkey chili, fat-free cheddar and some baked Tostitos!

Mexican Party Dip (Serves 8-10)

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 can of Hormel No-Bean Chili

2-3 Tbsp. chopped yellow onion

2 Tbsp. chopped jalapeno (I use the jarred kind opposed to fresh)

14 oz. Pace Picante sauce

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Take a medium, but fairly deep, baking dish and spread cream cheese in a layer, covering the entire bottom of the dish. I use a spoon to make sure it’s pressed up against the sides, creating a seal.

Pour chili over the cream cheese and spread evenly with a spoon.

Sprinkle chopped onions and jalapeno over the chili.

Pour Picante sauce on top – you don’t need a whole jar, maybe 3/4 – just enough to create a layer and cover the jalapenos and onions.

Now sprinkle the cheese on top of the salsa and you’re ready to bake.

Place dish in the oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and dip begins to bubble.

Remove, scoop with chips and devour!

Now, what usually happens when I make dishes for a party to put on my blog is that I get a lot of great pictures of the process. Then I cook the food. Then I put the food out. Then I forget to take a picture. Then I’m left with this to show you…

At least the dip being demolished shortly after coming out of the oven is a testament to how delicious it is! So try it soon – you won’t regret it!

Happy Friday the 13th everybody!

On the Move!

I seriously apologize for the lack of posting – I know, some blog I have going.

It has been a whirlwind of activity! With last week being the 4th of July and us not going anywhere, we decided to have a little get together – which meant 1 solid evening of preparing food and the other putting the finishing touches on everything!

Then we had to run home on the 4th of July, do laundry and pack because on Thursday, we flew to Pittsburgh to stay with one of my best friends from college for a day. We had so much fun seeing her and her fiance, who are getting married in October – and enjoyed exploring the city for a day! The husband experienced his first Primanti’s sandwich (which is piled with your choice of meat, then cheese, coleslaw and french fries!) – and we got to take the incline to the top of Mt. Washington to get an amazing view of downtown Pittsburgh. And, of course, we went to a Pirates game that evening!

On Saturday, we drove to Ohio for another college friend’s wedding – which was absolutely beautiful! Probably a bit hotter than she had bargained for – but it was such a great time, as it always is when I get to hang out with my girls.

So, as y’all may have noticed – it’s been brutally hot lately! A few weeks ago, the husband and I decided to brave the elements and go to a drive-in movie. I had planned on chicken tenders – but he said he wanted something cold before we went. Like a pasta salad.

I was totally okay with that, because I had just the thing to whip up – a tortellini and veggie pasta salad! It is so delicious and I’m sure it would be easy to adapt for tailgating, picnics, etc. by throwing some olives or salami/pepperoni. Consider this delicious recipe my apology for falling off the face of the earth the past few weeks…

Tortellini and Vegetable Pasta Salad (serves 4)

Dressing:

2 Tbsp. minced shallot

1/2 tsp. minced garlic

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/2 c. red wine vinegar

1/4 c. olive oil

Salad:

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed

9 oz. cheese tortellini

1/3 c. red onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 c. fat-free feta, crumbled

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

Add dressing ingredients together in a small food processor and pulse a few times until blended well. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add tortellini and cook according to directions. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.

Refill the pot with water and bring to boil. Add asparagus and cook 2-3 minutes. Have a bowl of cold water or ice nearby. Transfer asparagus to cold temperature – this will keep it from cooking any longer and allow it to keep the pretty green color!

Add chopped veggies to the tortellini and stir to combine.

Pour dressing over top and sprinkle with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir until combined.

Add crumbled feta and stir again until combined. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Then, it’s time to dig in! I definitely want to double this next time to make some yummy lunches for the week…