Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Party potatoes

This is the simplest side ever and is a staple in our summer grilling dinners because I ALWAYS have all the ingredients on hand.  They could also be called garbage potatoes becuase I throw in whatever I have to use...but here's the base:

red potatoes (I like red but you can use any kind)
onion (red, white, or yellow...whatever you've got)
mushrooms (fresh or canned, whatever you've got)
peppers (hot ones like jalopenos, mild ones like red or green bell peppers or anaheims)

I've even thrown tomatoes in there once in a while.  You can add or omit any veggie you've got or want to add.  Sometimes I don't even use potatoes and substitute zucchini for the taters (which is definetly the healthier option that I take most of the time unless we're doing big Sunday dinner).  Anyway, I use my trusty disposable baking dishes on the grill too and just cover them with tin foil but you could just use a double layer of tin foil to throw on the grill and make a boat if you don't have those.  Dice everything up and throw it in...the seasoning is the sweetness!  I always use:

garlic powder
onion powder
cracked pepper
rosemary (this is a great spice for taters that I just discovered last year)
sometimes I even throw a little cayenne pepper on there depending who is eating with us
light butter or olive oil (I try not to use more than 2 T for a batch for 6 people)

Anyway, if you have an unexpected group come over, or just need an easy side to serve a group...throw one of these together and toss it on the grill.  It takes about an hour and you need to stir every 10 minutes or so...the tub below would feed 10 people most likely:

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Pomegranite glazed pork chops

I was really excited about this recipe because I've grown to love pomegranites! When I lived in Ames, Mom brought one over one weekend and splattered the juice all over the walls while trying to get the seeds out...hence my apartment looked like a murder scene (and the juice stained permanently) afterwards on the dull paint. Also, pomegranite juice goes spledidly with vodka...just an FYI!

Justin on the other hand, was not so excited about this recipe...but that happens sometimes, and then he loves it, so I rarely take his advice.  But I did make half of the pork chops for Memorial day/Gary's birthday dinner with Lawry's baja chipotle marinade for 30 minutes (pictured below) and half with the pomegranite glaze recipe so he wouldn't whine :) 

So here's what you need for each pork chop you want (just double or triple for 2-3 chops):

1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/8 t cinnamon

1 c pomegranite juice
1 t sugar
2 t sliced green onions

Marinate the chop in 1/2 cup of pomegranite juice for 30 minutes beforehand. Stir together the first group of ingredients and that makes your rub (make sure to rub both sides of the pork chop). 

Throw the pork chops on the grill on medium heat and cook as you normally would. In a skillet, combine the sugar and the other 1/2 cup of pomegranite juice and bring to a boil.  Boil, uncovered, for 3-5 minutes or until mixture is reduced by half and thickens up to become more of a glaze than a liquid.  The picture below is after the glaze is reduced, and this was triple the glaze recipe since I was doing 3 pork chops:

Use a baster to coat both sides of pork chops with the glaze while they grill, as heavily as possible (in hindsight, I wouldve basted them after they were fully cooked came off the grill so the glaze didn't cook off as much). 

Sprinkle with green onions and serve! I left off the green onions as I didnt have time to grab any but they wouldve given it some good flavor I think.  I guess Justin was right in the end (don't ever tell him that though) because I wasn't in love with this recipe but it was decent, Gary and Teri seemed to really enjoy both kinds of chops we had.  I actually liked the baja chipotle marinated chops better but you never know what you're going to fall in love with until you try it.  Here's the final product served with bacon roasted brussel sprouts and party potatoes:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Grilled crab and cream cheese stuffed peppers

Beatrice brought some store bought stuffed chiles over a couple of weeks ago to throw on the grill and maaaaaan, they were good!  My problem with pre-made stuff from the store is that they don't even have to supply nutrition information so you never know what they throw in there. When something is stuffed with cream cheese and/or refuses to put numbers on the fat and calorie levels, you must assume the worst.....and that is: that they probably used full fat everything and then injected it with lard to make it taste like a little slice of heaven.  After all, they want people to keep buying them and paying twice what they cost to make so they want to make them as fabtastic as possible.

Here's the deal: the ones I made were just as great and clock in for under 150 calories a piece (you could even do them for 110-120 calories if you want).  Cha-ching! Now I can chow down without the guilt while I'm laying in bed later that night making deals with myself to get up earlier the next morning so I can run another mile or two to work that creamy filling off my tushy (or as Big Dan calls it: my potato ass).

So here's what you need:
4 anaheim peppers (just so you know, these are not hot peppers, more like bell peppers so don't worry if you're not the type to fire down a habanero, you will still love this)
1 container fat free cream cheese
1 cup imitation crab meat
4 pieces bacon (I used real this time because we had some in the fridge but if you want to cut down to the 110-120 range I mentioned above, you can use turkey bacon like I will in the future)
8 toothpicks to hold these rigs together

Start by cutting a slit in each pepper, not huge but enough to be able to stuff the filling in there with a spoon after it's mixed up. 

Then you have to use a spoon or some sort of utensil to scoop all the seeds and the white innards out of the inside of the pepper.  After you have all of these cut open and cleaned out, you will need to dice up the part of the pepper that you cut out and add it to a small mixing bowl (we don't waste much around our house). In that mixing bowl, add the container of cream cheese as well as the crab meat (torn up into small pieces).  Proceed to fill the peppers with the crab stuffing after it is well mixed....

Wrap those babies in a slice of bacon each and secure with one toothpick at the top and one toothpick at the bottom like so...

Like I said, I used full fat bacon this time which means there will be grease dripping down into your grill and making the flames jump up.  This could burn the peppers so keep an eye on them.  You also cannot flip these over or the filling will melt out into your grill, so you have to cook them slower on a higher rack that's not right on the flame or else the bottom will burn while the top isn't done.  I would say they took about 15 minutes of actual grilling time once they are prepared.  This was our Sunday dinner so the rest of the meal was a cheat meal...filet or me, ribeye for Justin, and mac and cheese :)

If you like your bacon a little more done than that, you could cook it partially in a pan before throwing it around the peppers as well....this was perfect for us.  Go ahead and click on that picture to enlarge it...makes me drool every time!

These couldn't have come out better! The filling makes 4 large peppers perfectly but we each ate only one since we had so much other food.  I hid the extra two in the back of the fridge so that Justin doesn't eat them for lunch today....out of sight, out of mind, right? Fingers crossed he doesn't read this today...enjoy!

EDIT:  I made these for father's day this weekend as well.  The problem was that I needed 6 peppers instead of 4 so didn't want to double the stuffing recipe but didn't want to run out.  Sooooo I added a can of Rotel diced tomatoes with habaneros to the stuffing mixture.  Wowza!  They were good but packed a lot of heat...so if you love heat, give that a shot.  If not, I would suggest using a can of Rotel diced tomatoes with green chiles instead of the habanero variety.  Not as much heat, but still adds something to the filling to have the tomatoes in there, and allows you to prepare more peppers with just one more can of goods.  Here are the HOT peppers....

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Angel food with greek yogurt

As you've noticed, the dessert section on this blog is pretty light.  I rarely make desserts unless there is a special occasion, I usually stick to the Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches if I have a craving for some sweetness...or just go give Justin a kiss (ohhhhhhhh, threw some cheese in there for ya)!  But I was home for the weekend and my mother has a bit of a sweet tooth so she threw together a simple dessert for us that was actually not half bad for you, at least as far as desserts go, which was pretty good.

She's on a greek yogurt kick (which is very good for you) so she bought some mini angel food cakes and some fresh fruit to throw together a nice looking dessert.  She cut the angel food minis down the middle, loaded a couple large spoonfulls of greek yogurt in the center, put the top on, and covered with some diced fresh fruit (she used strawberries and blueberries).  She drizzled some honey on top but you could go without that, and Big Dan dolloped some whipped cream on top...and we could all go without that!

I will say that I was a little hesitant because greek yogurt scares me for some reason....but this was great! Not too sweet, not too heavy, very fresh tasting, and I don't believe its high in calorie for something in the dessert section.  If I was a dessert person, this would be on my repeat list...I will keep it filed for next time my sweet tooth acts up :)

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Asian sesame salmon

Although Justin is very good about trying new things I throw at him, salmon is one he's never been very open to as he just doesn't like it.  He likes other fish, like tilapia...so I don't really get how he hates salmon but he does so I never get to make it at home.  Michelle makes a terrific apple salmon BLT that I would make a lot in the summer on the grill but I am not up on making 2 dinners so I suppose I can sacrifice my love for salmon to make sure my dude gets fed at night! 

BUT this weekend I went home to stay with my parents while Justin was out of town for a bachelor party, and Mama K has the same dilemma: Big Dan hates salmon (as well as brussel sprouts, which we also made, hahaha), so he got a pork chop and pasta salad. 

This recipe came from one of the McCormick spice packets as I've mentioned before but is a very simple one with common ingredients that most people have in their spice racks at home:

You will need:
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/3 cup honey
2 T soy sauce
2 lbs salmon fillets
...I omitted the 1 tsp of green onions because we didnt have them on hand but throw them in if you've got them!

Mix everything except the salmon together:

Spread the mixture over your salmon in a baking dish before throwing in the oven.  I saved some back to do another spread about halfway through cooking and another spread right before it was taken out of the oven.,  Roast salmon in preheated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or until the fish flakes with a fork.  Very simple, very delicious, very much going to have to figure out a way to make Justin like salmon! The recipe for the bacon roasted brussel sprouts is in the "sides" section of this blog if you want it.  They were a perfect side to add some bitterness and saltiness to counteract the sweetness of the salmon, I absolutely loved this meal!

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Chicken cacciatore over wheat angel hair

If you've never tried McCormick's new Recipe Inspriations packets, as Sir Mix-a-lot would say, you should really jump on it (I realize a lot of you won't get that reference but I love me some Sir Mix-a-lot and that song got stuck in my head immediately when I typed that phrase, haha).  I have tried the apple sage pork chops, the quesadilla casserole, the rosemary roasted chicken with potatoes, the chicken marsala, the tuscan chicken stew, last night the chicken cacciatore, and tonight the asian sesame salmon....and not one complaint about any of them, they always turn out amazing!  I wish they would pay me for this plug but looking at the list above I should probably just buy stock in the company since I purchase their products so much.

They're only about $2 a piece, they include all the spices that you will need for the recipe (premeasured), as well as a list of the extra ingredients you will need and detailed instructions.  None of them take much time, or weird ingredients (I usually have everything I need at home anyway).  My strategy is actually to try each of them and then keep the recipe card on the back to use for the future instead of continually buying them.  I thought about just taking a picture of the recipe in the store with my phone instead of buying all of them but figured I should throw them a bone for the wonderful idea.  This is perfect for people who don't like to cook, don't think they know how to cook, don't have a cupboard full of spices and don't want to buy them for a single recipe...great for guys actually.  Not to be sexist there, but most guys dont want to spend that much time in the kitchen but do enjoy a good meal.  I wanted a very simple meal with minimal ingredients to bring along with me as I was headed to the Mohr house for dinner, Aubrey time, and a planning meeting for the Indy 500 next weekend (SO excited).  I also wanted to make something light as Michelle and Amanda are into healthy eating/cooking just like me...

So, here is the one I used last night:

I did make some adjustments to healthify it up, however.  The recipe calls for 3 T olive oil and I omitted that and substituted fat free cooking spray for the skillet.  I also omitted the 1 tsp of salt and the 1/4 cup of flour for breading the chicken as frying is a big no-no for me.  I also added the wheat angel hair as I didn't think the cacciatore would be substantial enough on it's own.  Anyway, here are the rest of the ingredients I used:

The packet came with:
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp marjoram leaves
1/2 tsp oregano leaves
1/2 tsp crushed rosemary leaves
1/2 tsp thyme leaves
...all of which I have in my $25 spice rack at home.

What I had to add:
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can mushrooms
1 medium onion
1 medium bell pepper (I used an anaheim pepper as I had one on hand)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
...all of this I had in my pantry as I use most of these ingredients on a regular basis.

Now to get started!  Spray your large skillet with cooking spray, and throw the chicken breasts in to cook.  I let them cook on both sides for about 7-8 minutes, until they are almost done but still raw in the middle. While I was doing this, my sous chef, Miss Michelle (how sweet would it be to have one of those around all the time), was dicing the onion and pepper on the side and I was opening my cans of mushrooms and tomatoes.  We also got a pot boiling with water for the angel hair at this time.  Take the chicken breasts out and hand them to your helping hand to dice into bite size pieces like so:

While she is doing that, add the onion, pepper, and mushroom to the skillet to saute for about 5 minutes (remember, no oil). Add your wheat angel hair pasta right away when your pot of water is boiling.

Add the chicken back to the skillet once its diced and cook for a few more minutes with the veggies.  When the chicken pieces are cooked through, add the tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes as well as all your spices listed above.  Let this simmer for about 5 minutes over medium heat while stirring.  Should look a little something like this:

At this point, you can spoon it onto your pasta, or do like we did and drop all the noodles into the pan to stir it all together and serve.  Forewarning: I used Rotel diced tomatoes with habaneros and this dish was perfect for me! Cleared Ashley's sinuses right up it was so hot, but had such good flavor I couldn't get enough.  We all know I would eat something that lit my tongue on fire if it tasted good enough though.  So if you are a heat-seeker, then use the tomatoes with the habbies....if not, I would reccomend using the Rotel diced tomatoes with green chiles instead (they have some flavor from the chiles but are a lot more mild), or if you are a total pansy use plain tomatoes or even a can of fire roasted tomatoes.  I think the heat took this dish up a notch, but you can do whatever floats your boat!

This was a very light pasta, which I loved.  I don't like the bogged down feeling after a big plate of fettucine or spagetti...so I loved the healthy feel of this.  Just add some parm and you're good to go...

For some reason this pic doesn't want to turn the right way but I suppose pasta is viewable at any angle, haha! I'm new at this blogging stuff and don't have time to figure out why this one pic is being difficult so just tilt your head, if you could! Thanks for letting me dirty up your kitchen, Mrs. Mohr...and Happy Friday everyone!  :)

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Crockpot ranch roast

Sorry I havent been much for posting lately, it's not that I haven't been cooking dinner (you could tell that if you saw me, haha) but that I havent been cooking anything new for me lately.  I have come to terms with my laziness and kicked it to the curb, for now at least, and these next few posts will be all about experimentation!  Are you excited? :)

Last night's dinner was extrememly easy as most crockpot meals are...and was prepared on Tuesday night so that I could just start the cooker on Wednesday when I left for work.  As you know, recipes with around 5 ingredients really strike my fancy....so here goes:

Crockpot ranch roast

3 lb pork shoulder roast
1 lb red skinned potatoes, halved
1 can cream of chicken soup (I use 98% fat free)
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese (I use fat free)
1 envelope dry ranch salad dressing mix

The first step was a little different than most crockpot roasts, and I'm not sure it was needed.  I will probably omit this step the next time I do this recipe, just because I dont think it made a bit of difference.  But the first time I do a recipe I usually try to follow it precisely as you never know what problems it could cause not to follow the directions.  First step, if you are a direction follower like me, is to coat a skillet with cooking spray and heat it to medium heat.  Brown the roast on all sides before placing it in the crockpot:

Place the potatoes in the crock (in your crockpot baggie of course)....I didn't add an onion but would do so at this time the next go around with this recipe:

Throw the roast in on top of that, and then mix ranch packet, cream cheese, and soup together to make a sauce to drizzle on top of the roast and potatoes...

Justin started this jazz at 10 am on the low setting and it was amazing when I got home at 6:30 (so about 8-9 hours)!  Have you ever burnt the roof of your mouth so bad that the skin peeled off?  I did that twice picking bites out of the crockpot before it was dinner time.  Twice.  I guess I didn't learn my lesson the first time...or it was just that good.  Throw some fresh cracked pepper and salt on this and it had such a homecooked taste to it.  My only regret? I didn't have any wheat dinner rolls or buns to soak up all the fabtastic lovliness that is the juice. It seemed sort of like a pork and potato soup to be honest, and I didn't want any of the broth to go to waste....

Sidenote: If you have less time, you can put it on the high setting for 4-5 hours instead of low for 8-9...

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Refrigerator cucumbers

I'm sure most of you have had or at least seen some form of this in your lifetime.  I never used to be a big fan of cucumbers and absolutely despised onions until I met Justin, so I had seen this around but never given it a shot.  I should tell you that I love all sorts of vinegar though, balsamic being my fave but I don't play favorites.  When our garden started coming up last year, Justin wanted to make these cucumbers that his mom used to make when he was a kid (thanks for broadening my horizens, Candy).  So he got the recipe and we gave it a shot.  These suckers didn't last long at all...every time one of us walks by the fridge we get caught stealing a bite out of the container.  I would normally think that was bad but these are pretty good for you, so who cares right?

The only things you need are:

2 cucumbers
2 onions
4 cups vinegar (white, but I've used half white vinegar and half apple cider vinegar before)
1-1.5 cups sugar (or to taste)
cracked pepper (to taste)

Slice it all up, add it all together, and let the juices soak into the veggies overnight.   You can add more or less sugar to the mix, it cuts the bitterness of the vinegar but you don't taste actual sugar so as little as you can handle will make it better for you.  Serve as a side, a snack, or just leave it in the fridge and I bet it will be picked to it's death with someone asking for more when it's gone.  This picture doesn't do it justice, but it will have to do (I brought some for lunch today, hehe)....

WARNING: One downfall to my new love for onions is my newfound onion breath.  Onions mixed with vinegar tend to accentuate that debacle so DO NOT eat this before a date, or any time you will be within a foot of someone else's face in the near future.  Otherwise, enjoy :)

Pasta salad

A good pasta salad is hard to pass up in the summer, with fresh crunchy veggies and cold dressings they're just very refreshing but don't seem as heavy as a plate full of your average spag.  The problem I have is that my favorite ones are usually doused in so much dressing that its worse than eating a heaping portion of fat kid spag.  If you haven't been to Palmers (locations in Des Moines and Ankeny), you have to try their pasta primavera even if that means you can't eat the rest of the day.  It's got this peppercorn ranch on noodles and broccoli that I would probably drink from a can if it were sold in soda machines. 

Anyway, whenever I've tried to make a pasta salad at home and skinny it up, it always turns out bland.  Something was missing and I couldn't quite figure out what.  We had a party last year for the 4th of July and my friend Melissa brought her famous pasta salad (shout out to M from the MAAK, I still have your tupperware).  From then on, I had a bowl of it made in the fridge at all times to munch on sporadically for the rest of the summer.  We hit 90 degrees yesterday in Iowa (and it's raining today...go figure), I came home to Justin on the deck getting the furniture all set up, wiring the outdoor speakers up again so we are with music, the pool is full, and summer is officially here in my book! So I got the craving for summer food and we are now all stocked up on pasta salad.  It's sort of a wing it recipe but here's what I used:

1 box Barilla wheat rotini
1/2 bag of shredded mexican cheese
1 container Nature's Sweet cherubs
1 cucumber (diced up)
1.5 cups green olives
1/2 bottle Kraft fat free zesty italian dressing
3/4-1 bottle Kraft fat free catalina dressing
cracked pepper to taste

I have also added black olives, and you can add whatever other veggies you want.  Cook the noodles as you normally would, drain and add to a large bowl along with all other ingredients and mix together.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.  That's it...seriously.  Here's what summer tastes like to me:

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Potato chips and ranch dip

I'm a chips and dip freak.  I don't really know another word to describe my love affair with this crap food besides freakish.  Ever since I was a kid, I would come home from school and my snack would be chips and AE sour cream dip (garlic was my preference but I love me some party or french onion flavored too).  Anyway, long story short....this relationship has been the bain of my existence for my adult life.  My old roomie and I (don't worry Jennnnnn, our secret is safe with me and my blog) used to have races to see who could get to the bottom of their party dip first...oh, the calories consumed.  No wonder I have to work out 4 times a week when I'm 28.  The things I like the most are the things that are worst for me...just like pizza.  What's a girl to do?

Well, up until this point I just try to keet my love affair at bay for as long as possible but inevitably I end up stopping at a gas station on the way home when the craving becomes too great (since I will never allow myself to buy them on my scheduled trips to the grocery store).  But now....I found these Special K chip/cracker thingamajigs at the store today...ta daaaaaaaaaa!

They aren't exactly the same consistency as chips, or crackers for that matter, but they get the flavor right enough for me!  You can eat the whole box for under 400 calories...that doesn't cover too many normal fat-kid potato chips.  The dip is pretty good too, you could use fat free if you want to skimp even more but sometimes the taste just isn't there with fat free stuff.  Just add one ranch packet to a container of sour cream. The light version contains 40 calories per 2 tablespoons so it's not too bad.  So for 170 calories I get 30 chips with dip (which kills my craving), what a helluva deal!!  So if you see these on the shelf, give them a try if you're also an admitted chip and dip freak....they have sour cream and onion too.

P.S. I had this for lunch today but did also eat a container of raw veggies to counteract my unhealthy habit.  This ranch dip tastes pretty real and is great for veggie dip, etc all the while being cheaper and better for you (those two don't go together very often, usually the better for you means you're going to pay more) than buying the pre-made stuff.

Cheaper steaks

In order to conserve money, we have gone the route of buying a cow and a pig each year for our meat intake.  So very Iowa of us, isn't it? :) It's more expensive up front, but in the long run you would be amazed at how much money you save by buying in bulk rather than going the meat counter at the grocery store. 

The problem is the quantity.  We do pretty well eating through the ribs, briskets, steaks, etc but there is so much hamburger and roast that we have more than we can handle. So this year we decided to forgo the cow and just buy steaks until we eat our way through the rest of the roast and hamburger.  Grilling season is upon us and we don't want to be caught steak-less! :)

Costco will sell HUGE hunks of meat for a pretty decent price which you can take home and slice yourself, all while paying HALF what you would pay for single cuts of meat that they butcher for you.  Its really not that hard if you have a good set of knives, and the only things you need are some freezer bags and some room in that deep freeze! 

I like filets as they are leaner and better for you, and Justin likes the big boy cuts of ribeye....so I package one of each steak in each zipper bag and we have an easy dinner to pull out and thaw this summer.  This amount should last us through the summer months (at least most of the way) before we have to buy anymore beef.  We did go ahead with the pig this year as we eat through those faster, and it helps that Justin has a buddy that has pigs we only have to pay for butchering and not the meat.  Anyway, our freezer is now chock full of meat for the summer, which really helps on the grocery bill!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Fresh salsa!

Thought I would post the ingredients of our Stensland summer salsa in case anyone wants to give it a shot.  I honestly have never counted the amounts of anything I put in...I just mix it, give it a taste, add whatever's needed, and repeat the process. 

But here's what goes in it, in whatever quantities you wish to use.  I would probably use more peppers than most because I like it HOT HOT HOT, but I have to tame it down for Justin's 30 year old stomach.  :)

Jalopenos (add a habanero for a big batch if you like hot like me)
Garlic (fresh and minced)
Lime juice (fresh squeazed)

I do not add salt or anything that's not fresh, as we just love the raw veggie flavor of it, it tastes so summery and is great if you want to knock back a few beers.  So for around 25 pint jars yesterday (that I canned for the first time and ALL of them sealed, yay me!) I used 4 pallets of tomatoes which had about 8 large tomatoes on each pallet, 2 HUMONGOUS onions from Costco (like Im serious that Ive never seen an onion this size in my entire 28 years), a normal bunch of cilantro, about 6 full garlic cloves minced, 4 habaneros, approximately 15 medium sized jalopenos, and 10 small limes squeazed into the mix.  This is all an estimation so don't quote me but you can throw your own batch together and add or subtract whatever you like.  You could cut this in half or even in quarter and have a very nice sized batch of salsa. 

To get the veggies the consistency I want, I use a slap chop for the peppers and smaller stuff.  It makes nice uniform chunks so you're not getting hot bites sometimes and bland bites other times.  I will have to post a picture of the other chopper I use for the tomatoes as it leaves them a perfect size.  You could also use a blender or a food processor if you wanted, but I have neither of those so I do it all by hand.

If you make a batch this size, you will need to learn how to can them, and that's a whole 'nother post that I don't have time for right now.  Maybe when I do pickles soon I will let you in on the canning process...on that note, Happy Monday everyone!

Asian Chicken Salad

I loooooove me a salad in the summatime!  Some people eat them because they're healthy but I truly enjoy a good salad, and this one is one of my favorites.  The ingredients are simple, I found this light asian sesame dressing that I just love and built the salad around that.  Justin will actually eat this for a full meal now that I've convinced him he can get full off a salad for dinner...I just have to add a chicken breast or a small sirloin cut up to it and he is a happy camper.  So if you're a guy and think you can't get full from a salad, try this one before you make that judgement.  Pictured below is all you will need to make the asian chicken salad (besides lettuce, chicken, and tomatoes):

You can even leave the feta out if you're really cutting calories or are not a feta fan.  We had run the grill for something else earlier in the week and I threw a couple chicken breasts on there to keep in the fridge and throw on these salads later in the week.  You can use steak if you prefer it but it will add a few calories.  This dressing is light, but its not fat free so you don't want to use a ton of it or of the salad accents (a couple tablespoons should suffice). 

In 5 minutes of prep (as long as your meat is pre-cooked), you have a full dinnner salad that is something to rave about....

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French dips

I've posted this recipe on facebook before, it's one of my favorites from Mama K.  Another crockpot adventure so very easy and hands off once you've got all the ingrediants.  So here's the quick rundown for the imfamous beer french dips....

4-5#  rump roast
1 can beer
10 beef boulion cubes
2 whole garlic cloves
1 onion
1 tsp  Oregano
1-2 bay leaves
2 T sugar
Put all ingredients in crock pot and fill to top with water. Cook 6-8 hours on high.
Remove from crock pot and wrap in foil.
Keep juice warm for dipping.
Remove roast from foil and shred with a fork.
Serve on wheat rolls with 2% pepperjack cheese melted on top.
I used a 2 lb roast and cooked it on high for 5 hours and it turned out perfect....here's the end result.  So good we didnt even need sides :)
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Friday, May 6, 2011

Tilapia with mango salsa and szecuan green beans

And again, another favorite that I had first at Michelle's house...do you see why I like eating over there?  This is very healthy and light, seems like a gourmet meal but doesn't take long at all, and makes you feel like you sure know what you're doing in the kitchen! Guys, if you're cooking for a date...give this a shot instead of the standard pasta most guys do...and girls, this is great to impress your friends with (I was obviously impressed, lol)! 

Tilapia with mango salsa on a bed of cajun rice:

2-6 tilapia filets depending on size
Zatarains red beans and rice (I use Uncle Ben's 90 second microwavable
bags, the cajun one)

1 jalopeno diced
1/2 white onion diced
2 mangoes diced (they're tough to core so I need two to get the amount off
there that I want)
1 lime's juice squeazed in
fresh cilantro if you want (I use it if I have it but skip it if I dont)

Dicing mangos is a little different than normal fruit, they have a huge hard core in the center that is tough to get around.  I make this enough that I bought myself a mango splitter which looks funny but works amazingly! This thing cores the mango and leaves you with all the good parts of the fruit....

After you have the fruit in workable pieces, you want to score (cut down to the skin) it in vertical and horizantal fashion as pictured here:

Then, cut the fruit off the skin with your knife to leave the diced chunks like so:

Mix the salsa up with the rest of the ingredients and refrigerate so it's cold (you can do this ahead of time so it's a simple weeknight meal, but know that the salsa gets hotter the longer it sits and melds together). 

Bake the tilapia at 400 degrees in a greased baking dish, you can tell when its done when its fully white and flakes with a fork. 

Lay the tilapia on a bed of the cajun rice (Uncle Ben to the rescue AGAIN!)

Throw some mango salsa on top, and serve...super easy :)  Before I give you the final pretty picture though, I had better tell you about the szecuan green beans.  These are requested as one of the favorite veggies in the house, and it seems we are above eating canned green beans now....which is awesome since the fresh ones are over twice the cost!  But, these are a fave of mine too so I don't mind much.  I've shown you most of these ingrediants before (for the szecuan mushrooms on steak) and warned you that you would need to keep them on hand for a number of my recipes:

The only thing pictured that didn't go on the mushrooms was the baggie of sesame seeds.  I don't use amounts ever for any of these ingredients, some days we want it spicier so I add more szecuan sauce, others not so spicy so we back off on that.  You can come up with your own ratio...

Anyway, cut the ends off the fresh green beans and throw them in the skillet on medium heat adding these ingredients right away. These cook in less than 10 minutes so they're a simple side if you have everything at hand.  There you have it, and here is the final plate....tilapia filets are small so I usually use 2 per person but I didnt finish all of mine this time.  How freaking pretty is that??  And for only about 550 calories total by my calculations...

By the way, I didn't use to think that I was a fruit salsa kinda girl....but the onions and jalops cut the sweetness of the mango perfectly.  The rice compliments it all as well and I would say this is one of my top 5 favorite dishes...and that's saying a lot! Enjoy :)

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Beef enchiladas

I realize Cinco de Mayo was yesterday so I'm a bit tardy on posting a Mexican inspired dish but these are the oyster's iceskates (a customer said that phrase to me on the phone last week and I just love it although I'm not quite sure what it means).  This is another dish that is in regular rotation at our household that came from the lovely Mrs Michelle Mohr.  This post will be short as I have been busy with a lot of things going on lately and have quite a few meals to document....but here you have it:

Beef and cheese enchiladas

1 lb 97/3 hamburger (could try ground turkey although I never have, but I bet it would be just as good)
1 onion
1 can diced green chiles
1 can diced tomatoes with habaneros (you can do just the tomatos but I like the extra kick)
1 large can enchilada sauce
1 cup 2% cheddar cheese
1 can campbells fiesta nacho cheese soup
8 large tortillas

I like to add a diced jalopeno as well, we like the burn at our house!
I have also added a can of refried beans if I feel the need...

Brown the hamburger and drain, add onion (diced), green chiles, tomatoes with habaneros (drained), nacho cheese soup, and 3 T enchilada sauce to the skillet, simmer until mixed.

Grease a pan with nonstick cooking spray, and spread a couple T of enchilada sauce on the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking. Heat tortillas so they're easy to fold (carb balance tortillas are softer and dont break as easy either Ive found). Add a large scoop of the skillet mixture to a tortilla, fold the sides up and roll into enchilada.

Place in pan and continue for all 8 which should use up all the filling in the skillet.

Cover with remaining enchilada sauce, top with cheese, cover the pan with tinfoil and bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes.

Serve with lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, fat free sour cream, rice, beans, whatever Mexican stuff youve got in the house....NUM!!  I've estimated with the ingrediants I use that this is about 350 to 400 calories per enchilada...but that will depend how much cheese you layer on, how much sour cream you add, etc. 

Sidenote: I have made batches of these before and frozen them and they warm up fantastically....just an fyi :)

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