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Archive for January, 2010

Choco Nachos

You know we all love Choco Tacos.  I know, it’s probably been a while since you’ve had one (about 15 years for me), but aren’t they just so good?!  A crunchy, chocolate coated shell with vanilla ice cream covered in more chocolate with a topping of nuts!  Well, my husband, Joe randomly came up with the idea to make choco nachos one night, and while they may not have been the healthiest idea, with a little creativity, I think they’re at least not so bad for you.  Really, you must try this recipe.  Freeze the rest for later in the week when you need a pick me up!

Ingredients:

Pita bread sliced into quarters – as many as you’d like to make.  (Whole wheat of course)

Cinnamon and a pinch or two of sugar

Dark chocolate (has more antioxidants than regular)

Frozen vanilla yogurt

Frozen rasberries

Directions:

1)  Toast pita bread with olive oil, cinnamon, and a little sugar in a 400 degree oven until slightly brown.  About 8 minutes.

2)  Let cool then dip in melted chocolate.  You can melt the chocolate over a double broiler or right in the microwave – I chose the microwave.  Let set in freezer for about 30 minutes or until hardened.

3)  Mix frozen yogurt with frozen rasberries (or any fruit of your liking).  Add a spoonful to the top of your nachos and let set in freezer.

That’s it!  Super easy.  And really delicious.  It may not seem sophisticated, but I promise you it will definitely be a crowd pleaser.

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Yummy Fish Tostadas

If I could only eat one type of food for the rest of my life, it would definitely be Mexican. There’s just something so organic and fresh about their ingredients.  My favorite of course is salsa.  One of these days I’ll have to write about all the different varieties you can make – from pineapple and mango salsa to roasted red pepper and corn salsa to the very traditional salsa fresca.  Salsa can really turn any ordinary dish into something truly delicious.

Tonight I made one of my favorite dishes – Fish tostadas with tomatillo salsa.  Tostadas are really just “toasted” tortillas and came about as a way to eat slightly stale but still fresh tortillas.  I’m sure freshly made corn tortillas would take this dish to another level, but I used whole wheat flour tortillas.  Still yummy, and saves calories.

Ingredients:

1 lb. Fresh fish – we used Haddock, but any fish will do.  Ahi is often used in this dish as well.

1 can black beans

1 red onion diced – to use with black beans

2 cloves garlic

cumin

Limes (for salsa and fish)

1 jalapeno diced (with seeds adds more heat)

8-10 tomatillos

1 yellow onion chopped to use with tomatillos

panko bread crumbs (can add flavor with combo of chili powder, cayenne, cumin, paprika)

Tortillas – slightly toasted in oven with olive oil

Cheese – I love queso fresco, but can’t always find it.

Directions:

1)  Black bean puree:  Saute red onion, garlic, 1/2 jalapeno, and cumin for about 3-4 minutes.  Add black beans until heated through.  Puree half in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Combine with remaining half.

2)  Tomatillo salsa:  Roast tomatillos and onion in 400 degree oven until slightly brown and tomatillos begin to pop open.  Add roasted tomatillos, onions, 1/2 jalapeno, juice from 1 lime, and salt (to taste) to a blender.  DONE!  May want to adjust seasoning with more lime/ salt.

3)  Fish:  Season with salt and pepper.  Cut into large “fish sticks.”  Add lime juice to moisten fish (helps panko stick).  Roll fish in spiced up panko crumbs.  Saute in pan on medium to high heat for 3-4 minutes per side.

4)  Begin layering – smooth on black beans, add fish, salsa, and cheese.  Heat in oven until cheese melts.  Enjoy!

This dish can be messy, so be sure to have a napkin around 🙂

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Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This was the first time I’ve ever made a broccoli cheddar soup and I must say, it was sooo good!  I’m already wanting to make it again!  The best part – it’s healthy.  On a cold, winter night nothing is more comforting than a warm bowl of soup with a fresh loaf of sourdough bread.  If you’re watching your carbs, you can skip dipping large chunks into your soup, but I wouldn’t suggest it!  Bread is one of my weaknesses – even more so than chocolate.

To help make this a thicker, creamier soup, I decided to add a few red potatoes.  The potatoes added a really nice but subtle flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 4-5 diced red potatoes (with skins)
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 15 oz. chicken broth
  • 3 small heads of broccoli – separate the florets from the stems but keep both
  • 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese (it’s best freshly grated!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1) Saute onion, salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes with extra virgin olive oil over medium to high heat for approximately 5 minutes.

2)  Add the diced potatos, milk, and broth to the pot.  Bring to a boil.  Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer approximately 25 minutes.

3)  Add the broccoli stems and simmer for 3-4 minutes until cooked through.  Then puree mixture using a hand blender until the stems are broken down.

4)  Add the broccoli florets, partially cover and cook over medium heat for 8 minutes.  Then puree the florets until creamy.

5)  Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring until cheese melts.

6)  Top with fresh croutons.  You can make these by toasting bread slices in a 400 degree oven with olive oil, salt, and pepper for 8-10 minutes.  Then chop.

Hope you enjoy this soup as much as I did!  Bon Appetit!

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Pizza #2 – White Pizza

So, as I mentioned in my previous post, Joe and I actually made two pizzas last night because we couldn’t decide which pizza sounded better – a white pizza or a Thai Shrimp.  This post is for our white pizza which had sautéed spinach, carmelized onions, and roasted garlic.  It was so good I actually ate it cold for lunch today – didn’t have the patience to warm up the oven! 

Ingredients:

  • 1 package fresh wheat pizza dough
  • 1/2 bag of spinach
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 or 2 heads of garlic
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup shredded pecorino romano
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese – I had this, but forgot to add – too much going on.
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt/ pepper
  • red pepper flakes – about a teaspoon

Directions:

1)  Preheat oven to 400.  Drizzle olive oil, salt, and pepper on the rolled out pizza dough.  Before you roll out dough, make sure it’s at room temp. or it won’t roll out as thin as you may want it.  This is where I also like to add a pinch or so of red pepper flakes – it adds a great flavor with the white pizza. 

2)  Cook pizza dough for approximately 10-12 minutes or just until golden brown. 

3)  In the meantime, roast the garlic.  To prepare the garlic, cut off the top so all the cloves are exposed.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, cover with foil, then place in oven (at the same time as the dough) for approximately 25 minutes – just until lightly browned. 

4)  For the onions, slice thinly into half moons.  Then add to saute pan with 2-3 tbls warm olive oil.  Don’t forget to season the onions with salt and pepper – it helps sweeten their taste.  Continue to cook on medium to low heat stirring frequently so as not to burn the onion.  It may take about 20-25 minutes until they turn a light brown.  Some recipes call for sugar, but I skip this ingredient.  When done, place on plate with paper towel to strain of any extra oil.

5)  Sautee the spinach with about 1 tbls of olive oil.  This doesn’t take long – only about 2 minutes.  Make sure you are almost ready to start assembling your pizza before finishing this step.

6)  Begin assembling pizza!  Start with a thin layer of ricotta, then layer the other cheeses.  Lastly I top with the spinach, roasted garlic, and carmelized onions.

7)  Heat in oven until cheeses begin to melt – about 4-5 minutes.

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Pizza is the one food I’m not sure I could give up.  Really, I love it!  The smell of warm, crusty dough and the taste of the mozarella cheese that just starts to brown – it’s so good.  The only downfall is pizza isn’t always considered a healthy meal, which is why I’ve started creating my own with fresh, good for you ingredients.  Last night we couldn’t decide what kind of pizza we were in the mood for, so we made two!  One was a Thai Shrimp Pizza with Plum Sauce and the other was a White Pizza with Spinach, Carmelized Onions, and Roasted Garlic – I’ll get to the white pizza soon.  Both were awesome and hopefully much healthier than anything we could have ordered at a restaurant.

Here’s a look at them both.

You’ll notice in the picture, we used the bottom of cookie sheets as our pizza pan.  It’s a great solution if you don’t have a pizza pan.

Thai Shrimp Pizza – Adapted from Rachel Ray

Ingredients:

  • 1 wheat pizza dough, – they sell fresh dough at most grocery stores now in the prepared foods section or ask your local pizzeria for fresh dough. 
  • 1/2 cup duck sauce or plum sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Shredded Cheese – I like Mozzarella but use what you like and as much as you want!
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 rounded tablespoonful peanut butter  
  • 10 large shrimp
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, cider vinegar, or red wine vinegar 
  • 1 large carrot grated
  • 4 scallions, chopped – I forgot those this time
  • 1 cup bean spouts, a couple of handfuls
  • Cilantro would be good – but Joe’s not a fan
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts, 2 ounces – also forgot the peanuts – but these add a great texture.
  • Directions:

    1)  Preheat Oven to 400.   Make sure pizza dough is at room temp – it will roll out much easier.  Lightly flour before you roll the dough.  Use a fork to make little pricks.  Drizzle Extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper on the dough to give it a nice sheen.  Place it on pizza pan (or back of cookie sheet) and cook in oven for 10 minutes or so – just until browning.

    2)  Meanwhile, marinate your shrimp (or chicken) in vegetable oil, soy sauce, and peanut butter.  You may need to warm up the marinate so the peanut butter thins.  You will also want to marinate your grated carrots in the red wine vinegar and honey.  It sounds a little strange, but so good.  You could also try cucumbers.

    3)  Once dough looks golden, remove from oven and let cool for a minute or two.  Begin your layers.  Start with the plum sauce on the bottom and then add your cheeses.  Put back in oven until cheese starts to melt. 

    4)  Sautee shrimp in sauce pan for about 2 minutes on each side.  Be sure not to add extra marinade to the pan or it will really blacken your shrimp.  Once cooked through until no longer opaque in center – cut into bite sized pieces.

    5)  Remove pizza from oven and continue adding your layers.  Red peppers, shrimp, bean sprouts, grated carrots, scallions, and peanuts. 

    Enjoy!   I’ll have the white pizza recipe up soon.

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    Chic Aprons

    I have to admit, I don’t actually own an apron – even though my website implies I do.  In a lot of ways it seems a little old-fashioned and very 1950’s, but from a practical viewpoint I really need one.  When I cook I have this bad habit of testing things when they’re too hot and hence spilling any and everything on my clothes.  You would think I would learn, but sometimes the food looks so good I can’t wait!  Recently I’ve been picking up pans and cookie sheets that have been in the oven – not good – and food ends up on me and the floor.  Needless to say, I’ve been on the lookout for some “chic aprons” and I think it’s been a success.  Do you have a favorite??

    Etsy: $33.00

    Etsy: $31.00

    Anthropologie: $28.00

    Anthropologie: $32.00

    Love the slight ruffle!

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    Mac and Cheese with Butternut Squash – I was skeptical at first too, but this one is so yummy!  I’ve tried a few other versions in the past, but the squash was too overwhelming.  I think the key is to roast the butternut squash as opposed to boiling it or using it frozen.  Roasting the squash with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper really brings out the sweetness.  Did you know all winter squashes are an excellent source of Vitamin A, but butternut squash is much higher than either acorn or spaghetti squash?  I guess it’s because of it’s deep orange color. 

    Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup chicken stock 
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • Dash of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound (box) elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup finely grated sharp cheddar cheese (If you can, it’s better freshly grated)
  • 1/2 cup monterray jack/ cheddar cheese (this I use store bought)
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Olive-oil cooking spray
  •  

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roast butternut squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper until fork tender – about 15-20 minutes.  Add cooked squash to large bowl along with chicken stock and milk.  Mash everything together and stir nutmeg, cayenne, and salt, and season with black pepper.
    2. Cook macaroni according to box – about 8 minutes so it’s al dente.  Add to squash mixture.  Stir in cheddar, monterray jack, ricotta, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
    3. This usually fills two 8-inch-square baking dishes for me.  Spray baking dishes with cooking spray and transfer noodle mixture to dish. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, the remaining Parmesan, and oil; sprinkle evenly over noodle mixture.
    4. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 375 for 20 minutes (You’ll have to lower oven temp since we roasted at 400). Remove foil, and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top, 30 to 40 minutes more. Serve immediately.

    Enjoy! 

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