Monday, April 30, 2012

Cauliflower poppers

First off, I want to give a shout out to my main man on his 31st birthday today! We got together a little over 3 years ago, so we've enjoyed quite a few birthdays together...he still always beats me in the surprises department (he gave me a limo shopping trip with my girls one year and proposed last year, so he's tough to compete with) but we had a heckuva time with great friends this weekend heading to Riverside Casino for golfing, gambling, swimming, dinner, etc.  What a blast!

Weekends like that are few and far between for us it seems like, so they're appreciated all the more. But they also wear on a 31 year old more than they used to...we can both feel our age today, that's for sure! After the alcohol and the food this weekend, these cauliflower poppers sound phenomenal...a low carb snack that is a perfectly poppable snack without the grease of being fried.  I'm pretty much obsessed with cauliflower now since the twice baked cauliflower, and I plan on making cauliflower pizza crust and breadsticks soon for a low carb pizza.  I'll let you know how it turns out :)

Anyway, I made these for Christina and Brandy and I when they came over to help me choose between my 2 wedding dresses last week...of course trying those on makes me want to eat healthy! These were a little appetizer before our dinner and I thought they were perfectly spiced, and a great way to get a meal started...Brandy Sue tends to like her cauli cold, crunchy, and doused in ranch dressing but Christina and I thouroughly enjoyed the cooked ones...yeah, we killed a whole head of cauliflower before dinner...don't judge!

1 head uncooked cauliflower
1 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1 t salt
1 t black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Cut the cauliflower florets into bite sized pieces (there should be about 4 cups unless Brandy Sue stole some from your pile to eat plain too).  Place cauliflower in a medium bowl and add all spices, toss to coat.

Spread onto a baking sheet and bake until cauliflower is tender, but not mushy, stirring halfway through, about 10 minutes.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Ham and cheese sliders with poppyseed sauce

Mrs. Mohr is about 25 weeks pregnant.  She's not like some pregnant women though, when she's pregnant she doesn't get cravings, she actually has less desire for food she normally loves and can never figure out what to make for dinner. So it was odd that she had a severe craving for ham recently...real ham, not deli ham, the real stuff sliced right off the bone. My main man also has a weakness for the Wilbur (although his is not due to pregnancy thankfully), so we happen to have a freezer full of the stuff.  Interestingly, they had this craving the same week and I came downstairs to him shaving all our hams up....perfect timing to drop a bag at the Mohr household to give a little love to the newest mini-Mohr who for some reason has a love of ham!

She found this recipe at The Girl Who Ate Everything, and I was pumped to look through the other recipes on this site (I've pinned about 80 of them)! I did not try these sammies, but Michelle said she would def make them again so I will be giving them a shot at some point soon when I want to suck up to the main man...he's got a weakness for a good ham sammy :)

24 good white dinner rolls24 pieces good honey ham
24 small slices Swiss cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup miracle whip

Poppyseed sauce:
(you probably could half this sauce recipe...I had plenty extra)
1 Tablespoon poppyseeds
1 1/2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 Tablespoon minced onion
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise and miracle whip. Spread onto both sides of the center of each roll. Place a slice of ham and a slice of Swiss inside of each roll. Close rolls and place them into a large baking dish or heavy cookie sheet. Place very close together.

In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the poppy seed sauce ingredients. Pour evenly over all of the sandwiches. You do not have to use all of the sauce! Just use enough to cover the tops. Let sit 10 minutes or until butter sets slightly. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Uncover and cook for 2 additional minutes or until tops are slightly brown and crispy. Serve warm.

** sandwiches can be assembled a day ahead and kept in the fridge ready to bake.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Taco stuffed shells

I saw it on Pinterest. Amanda emailed me and told me she made it and they loved it. Michelle emailed back and said they had made it the previous night too and loved it. Beatrice sent me a picture of it when she made it and said it was phenom. 

First off, I absolutely ADORE that my friends care enough to let me know when they have a delish meal so that I can try it myself. Secondly, if this many people rave about something, it's like state law that you have to try it.  So we did :)

1 lb ground beef (I used ground turkey to lighten it up a bit)
1 package low sodium taco seasoning
4 oz cream cheese (I used fat free)
12 large pasta shells (about half the box)
1 cup salsa (I used salsa verde that I had left from another recipe)
1 cup taco sauce
1 cup shredded cheese

Optional toppings:
fat free sour cream
crushed up tortilla chips
diced green onions
black olives
additional salsa
diced tomatoes

Brown your ground beef and add taco seasoning as you would if you were making tacos.  Add cream cheese and mix well. While burger is cooking, boil the pasta shells, and drain.

Pour salsa in the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish, and put your boiled shells on top. Fill the shells with your taco stuffing. Spoon taco sauce on filled shells and sprinkle shredded cheese on top of them.

Cover and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees (depending on if you cook immediately or if you heat up from the fridge like I do when I make meals ahead of time).  Sprinkle a little more cheese on and uncover, then cook for another 10-15 minutes. Serve with optional toppings and enjoy!

I just threw on some diced tomatoes and a "dollop of Daisy" (sour cream) and we were good to go...main man was soooo confused. Smells like Mexican, looks like Italian...."What actually is this stuff?" he asked as he headed back for seconds. On his way back with his second helping he stated "You know when you ask me if you should make things again? This one is a hell yes!"  So there you have it folks, from the mouth of the man in charge.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Garlic shrimp wild rice

I am forever a changed woman. I will now follow the golden rule of cooking with shrimp, 'though shalt never use pre-cooked shrimp in a recipe'.  Bet you didn't know that rule existed, huh?  I've read it a few places, so I'm taking it as truth...especially after my most recent experience with it.

I am all about cutting corners, so purchasing the pre-cooked, pink, ready to eat shrimp is standard.  You don't have to peel the whole skin off (just the tail) and you def don't have to mess with that little poop trail thing down the middle. Sick. I don't know what shrimpies eat in real life, but it can't be good even before it's processed in their digestive tract, so I surely don't want to eat it afterwards. But that's just my opinion...

I accidentally grabbed an uncooked, grey, poop-riddled bag of shrimpies last time I was at the store....and my world is changed. It's not like the pre-cooked ones taste any different, but the texture difference is phenomenal! I sort of threw this meal together with things I had laying around, and it ended up being pretty good if I'm allowed to horn toot on a Wednesday morning....ahem...toot, toot!

2 cups sugar snap peas
1 lb uncooked shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1 cup cherry/grape tomatoes
4 T turkey bacon bits
1 container savory garlic cooking creme
2 bags Uncle Ben's long grain and wild Ready Rice (we've talked about this before, I buy all these types of the Ready Rice and just love having it on hand....)
cracked black pepper to taste

Add your shrimp, bacon bits, and veggies to the greased skillet and stir continuously so as not to overcook the shrimp...

Saute for a bit before adding the cooking creme to the skillet. You could add some chicken broth or some skim milk if you want the sauce to be a little thinner....I like it thick, so I left it be :)

While cooking the main skillet, throw your rice bags in the microwave for 2 minutes and then add them to the skillet with the rest of your yumminess. This is why I like the microwave rice....not giving up taste but saving yourself 25 minutes cooking rice on the stovetop.....BONUS!!

Look at those shrimp in the photo below (I wish my photography skills were better to illustrate this point, but you'll live, I guess) and tell me if you can tell a visual difference.  They tend to be springier, and almost explode into little flowers from their previous grey slimy look. They take on the flavor of the dish so easily, such a beautiful shape and texture....I'm a full fledged addict now. Bought myself 2 bags of uncooked shrimp for some more seafood adventures soon....

This recipe served 4 peeps, including 2 hungry Stensland boys who spoke of how good it was between shovel fulls into their the lesson for today is: buy these cooking cremes and these instant rice packages, and you have an easy weeknight dinner to throw together in minutes with whatever you find in your fridge.  Granted, it's not homemade gourmet, but we can't be all Betty Crocker every night of the week. Chicken would've worked great in this, mushrooms would have been divine, a little diced bell pepper would've added something, fresh green beans would've been a good sub for the snap peas, some onions would be welcome, and if you had to go meatless, you would've still been satisfied! Class dismissed.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Grilled balsamic flank steak with grilled artichokes

I'm obsessed. I literally make flank steak once per week now.  Since I've been trying to stick to the "no carbs after 5 pm" thing, it seems that red meat is the most fulfilling main dish, and doesn't leave me wanting a pile of taters or pasta afterwards (I don't think Olive Garden should be able to advertise with photos after 5 pm...same with Pizza Hut).  Flank steak has many health benefits, but it does take up 20% of our daily fat intake, so it's not something we eat every day....but every week is fine :) It's a great source of protein so it's perfect for nights we've done weights in Kosama (rebuilds the muscle I tore up), and it's low in carbs so my body won't turn it to sugar in the evening and just sit on it. It's literally perfect and tastes soooooo naughty without actually being a diet buster!

I made the cuban flank steak salad a couple weeks ago, and Justin and I were both in heaven! I immediately went to the store and bought a few more to keep in the freezer and try some other concoctions I've found online, like this balsamic flank steak I did last week.  I was not disappointed.  The only thing you want to be careful of with flank steak is not to overdo it.  It gets very tough if overcooked, so if you like your meat done over medium-rare, flank steak may not be the cut for you. Lucky for me, I love my meat pretty rare!

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 T Worcestershire sauce
2 t brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb flank steak

Combine first four ingredients in a large ziplock bag or container. Add steak, turn to coat. Marinate overnight before grilling to desired doneness (flank steak is best served medium rare as it gets tough if you go over medium). Let the meat rest for 6 minutes before cutting so you don't lose the juice!

Does anyone know how to really carve a fresh artichoke? I've never bought real ones before, but my Aunt Chris works at HyVee so she gets me some freebies of the giveaways they have at work sometimes....yeah, that's right, I know people. Anyway, she gave me two containers of fresh artichokes and I had no clue what to do with them. Got a recipe for grilled artichokes to go with my steak and thought I would give it a go....

Grilled artichokes:
6 fresh arthichokes
2 lemons, halved, plus 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 T parsley
1 t minced garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

Trim the stem from each artichoke to 1 inch long, then bend back and snap off dark outer leaves. cut top inch of artichokes with a serratd knife. Using a vegetable peeler, peel dark green areas from stem and base of artichoke. Quarter each artichoke an cut out the choke  and remove the purple, prickly tipped leaves from the center of each wedge.

Place finished artichokes in a large bowl of cold water and squeeze 2 lemons into the water and stir. Continue with remaining artichokes.

Once finished, drain the artichokes and place into boiling wter and cook until crisp-tender, about 12 minutes. Drain the cooked artichokes and place onto preheated grill. Cook until tender and lightly charred in spots, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium sized bowl, add remaining lemon juice, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper, to taste.  Gradually ddrizzle the mixture onto the artichokes after taking them off the grill.

This is how the recipe I got online directed me to clean a fresh artichoke, but I think I was a little off on the whole process as I wasn't a fan of these artichokes at all (which sucks because I love me some artichoke dip or artichokes on my pizza so I was pumped to grill them). Some of my artichokes were done perfectly and were very tender, but most of them were very hard and chewy, like I didn't cut off enough of the outer layers when I was cleaning them. The food hoarder in me didn't want to throw that much of the veggie, I ask you, how would you explain to me how to clean an artichoke? If you don't know how, I wouldn't recommend trying this recipe....the artichoke part, I HAVE TO try the flank steak part. Did you see 'have to' in in all caps? That means do as I say :)

Look at the crust on that steak, but the middle is still juicy...mmmmm, I might have to move this week's flank steak meal up in the rotation!

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Ham and egg cups

These are very similar to the egg muffins we made for Christmas, but the idea of the ham being the bowl was another Pinterest find. These are super flipping easy, and my new thing is to make them on the weekend to baggie up and take to work for breakfast during the week. Great protein, nice and hearty, and only 200 calories for 2 of them...can't beat that!

I just use whatever I have on hand to throw in there...this time it was broccoli and cheese mixed with the beaten eggs, and poured into the ham cups that are layered in the greased muffin tin. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees until a toothpick comes out clean, and you're in business! This is my kinda Monday post...simple, yummy, hearty, and healthy.  Happy beginning of the week, all!

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Salmon apple BLT's

I had totally forgotten about these until a couple weeks ago. Which is an absolute shame....but I blame my main man. He has an aversion to salmon that really chaps my arse....which means I don't ever get to make it at home if I want him eating dinner. So what's a girl to do? Invite herself over to her friend Michelle's house so she can make it for her! It also helps if said friend has pregnancy brain and thinks that the dinner date was her own idea so you don't feel rude for inviting yourself over for dinner AND choosing what is served :)

This is one of Michelle's recipes that she came up with to copycat a sandwich made at a restaurant she used to work at a few years back. Obviously, living in Iowa, a BLT just screams Summertime....but add grilled salmon to that, and then add grilled apple slices to that for a little sweetness and you will have a whole new spin on the classic BLT.

Michelle seems to be a master at getting me to try and love things I would normally not make for myself...cases in point: tilapia with mango salsa and sweet and sour chicken. Note that all 3 of these recipes have fruit in them. I'm not sure why I always think I don't enjoy cooking with fruit, because I always love it when she does it...and it seems that I add her recipes to my list of regular rotations in our household.  Anyway, the point is...I know this sounds different...but different is gooooooood, my friends!

sliced apple
salmon fillets
blackened seasoning
turkey bacon
sliced tomato
fat free mayo (or olive oil mayo)
good bread

Season the salmon fillets with blackened seasoning before putting them in foil packets for the grill.  Lay the slices of apple on the grill as well, turning as they get yummy grill marks.

Cook turkey bacon and slice tomato and lettuce....

...and put together your masterpiece! These are so loaded with goodness, it's tough to get it all in your mouth sometimes, so I like to squish mine down when I bite...yum, I shouldn't be posting this close to lunchtime! I couldn't fit all my salmon on the sandwich so I ate the rest of it solo, as you can see...

The bread you choose really makes a difference in the sandwich, just like with any sandwich. This was amazing bread! Look at all those layers....bread, mayo, salmon, lettuce, tomato, apple, bread! My contribution was my new favorite low carb side...I told you guys you would get sick of how much you will see the twice baked cauliflower on my plates! I was full after half of this sammy, but somehow the other half disappeared while I was trying to decide whether to stop or not...funny how that happens.

In other news, little lady A said my name that night!!  Yes, I know it sounds like her own name and she probably doesn't know the difference but don't steal my thunder here, folks! Look at that trouble making little grin while she's stealing my floppers....I heart her :)

She's getting very good at posing for the camera and "cheesing" too...I love that she's not scared of my flash anymore! Ok, enough of the cuteness...and on to see if I can find anything halfway as exciting for lunch as these salmon BLT's...I think I'm going to be disappointed :(

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spinach and cheese lasagna rolls

I originally saw this photo on Pinterest....ummmmm, yeah. I'll have that. I do follow Gina's blog though, so this must've been back in the archives where I never happened upon it until now. Isn't Pinterest just the best! Anyway, if you want to check out more of Gina's skinny recipes, click HERE!  Oh, and judge away...her photos are insane compared to mine!

 I followed the recipe, but not really to a T.  I had a bunch of spinach in the fridge as well as some ricotta so I thought I would give this a go. I didn't really measure my spinach, I just threw the rest of the huge container in there....if you're not a spinach lover, you may want to refrain from using as much as I did.  I am in fact a lover of all things green, so this was a perfect amount for me! 

I wilted the spinach with a tiny bit of butter and 3 cloves of minced garlic in the microwave for about 2 minutes, stirring every 20 seconds. I then added my container of light ricotta, and a package of fresh mozzerella that I chopped up to the spinach mixture.

My lasagna noodles were boiled ahead of time and cooled off, so I laid them out on the table and started spooning the filling onto them.

Roll 'em on up!

And place them in your greased baking pan... know me. I can't really go meatless. I've just doesn't satisfy me. You vegetarians are strong people if you ask me. So instead of using just tomato sauce as the recipe called for...I used the leftover jar of bolognese sauce I had from when I made cheese ravioli a couple weeks prior to this.

Pour the sauce on top, and sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper to give it a little kick in the pants.

Either throw it in the fridge to bake when you're ready for it, or throw it in the oven right away to chow on immediately. I prefer making meals like this on a weekend to throw in the oven for a home cooked dinner during the week...takes me about 2 hours on Sunday to get all meals and cleanup done for the week ahead...I would say that's a good trade off for the time I save during the week.

I was not disappointed in this pasta in the slightest (like I've ever been disappointed with one of Gina's recipes)...and I don't think the large mouse in our house was either. There were obviously leftovers since there were just 2 of us eating this dish...but every time I would peek in at the leftovers, half a lasagna roll would be gone!  The fork left in the container was another clue. And don't ask why I was opening the leftovers each day either...I can't be trusted around phenomenal pasta. It's something I've had to come to terms with throughout my adult life!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chipotle grilled pork chops

This is not a recipe. I repeat, this is not a recipe. This is a command. I have a whole compartment in my fridge for these Lawry's marinades. A list of all of the flavors can be found HERE, but I personally recommend the Steak and Chop for filets on the grill, the Baja Chipotle (pictured below) for a PERFECT pork chop on the grill, the Caribbean Jerk for grilled shrimp, and the Balsamic Herb for grilled chicken.

Marinated meat is easier than just can't do it wrong. Pour the marinade on the meat, refridgerate (it says 30 minutes, but I like to do overnight), and throw on the grill when you're hungry. This is my go-to pork on the grill, and you'll see why if you give it a shot...

I steamed some broccoli and threw some leftover parmesan tomatoes with each chop, and it was a fully satisfying, rub your tummy afterwards, fiance-pleasing, type of meal for under 500 calories.  I plan on trying all the other Lawry's flavors this that's going to be a fun goal to work towards!

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Strawberry icebox cake

Another amazingly simple Easter contribution.  Again, with less than 5 ingredients....I was on a roll!  I had never made, let alone heard of, and icebox cake before. Basically the gist is, you don't have to bake them, they just need refridgerated to meld all flavors together.  Can't really beat that, can you?!

2 lbs fresh strawberries, washed and sliced
1 container cool whip (I used the light kind)
4 sleeves graham crackers
chocolate syrup

Spread a spoonful of whipped cream on the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan, or a similar sized dish. I went with the disposable so I wouldn't have to worry about taking stuff home with me if I didn't want to be stuck with leftovers.

Lay down 6 graham crackers and lightly cover the top of them with more whipped cream, and then a single layer of strawberries. Drizzle some chocolate on that, and then another layer of whipped cream. Repeat as many times as your ingredients or pan size allow....ending with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle as well as a few strawberries for decoration.  This is also so people know what they're getting into, the fat kid in me likes to know whats in a cake before I cut into them :)

Refrigerate at least 4 hours, so graham crackers soften into a cake like texture...I did mine overnight just to be safe.  I think it got better throughout the day (please ignore it if you noticed that this statement means I ate the stuff multiple times that day....k, thanks!) so the longer you let the flavors meld, the better.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Pesto and cream cheese stuffed tomatoes

Remember my 5 ingredients or less obsession? OK, now ask me how I feel about 3 ingredients...

These are pretty self explanatory once you see the ingredient list. Here's what you need:

1 pint large cherry tomatoes
4 oz cream cheese (I used fat free)
2 T basil pesto

If I were awarding prizes for cherry tomatoes, this brand would have the gold medal! I've always loved tomatoes, you know how I feel about pesto, and if you don't like cream cheese you're reading the wrong blog.  This has been in my pile to try for a long while, but I was patient and waited until Easter when we would be serving them to a crowd, rather than listening to Justin's reaction of "Why are we having these tomato things every night?" if I would've made a batch for just the two of us. Of course, I knew he wouldn't be a fan, with the pesto making these taste like plants (his words, not mine)...but I knew I would have trouble restraining myself from popping these suckers so I doubled the batch just to be safe.

The most time consuming part was hollowing out the tomatoes. I just cut the top off, used a small spoon to get most of the flesh out, and then added them to the pan to await being filled with deliciousness....

I'm a big fan of using baggies to fill things that need filling....waaaaaaaay easier than trying to spoon the cheese into the tomatoes like the recipe described. Just mix the pesto and the cream cheese together in a bowl and spoon it into a baggie. Cut the tip off a corner of the baggie and you've got a perfect vehicle to fill your maters!

Mmm, mmm, mmm...I'm salivating looking at the photos again. I brought these to Justin's dad's side for Easter and we ate the leftovers at Justin's mom's that night...I should say I ate the leftovers. I had to take as many of them down on the weekend as I could...everyone knows calories don't count on the weekend. And I left them there to be thrown away...I can't be trusted with poppable cheese things (anything poppable with cheese involved)...and I know that about myself. We each have our vices...

In for a close up...don't goob up your screen like I'm doing drooling over these!

I used prepared pesto as I didn't have any fresh basil and I only needed the small amount this recipe called for so didn't want to make a batch. But in the Summer, when my deck planter is in full force, I make my own here's the recipe for that if you would like to prepare your own.

Basil pesto:

2 cups fresh basil leaves
2 large garlic cloves
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Throw it all in the food processor and you're good to go! This will make more pesto than needed for this recipe, so you can use the rest to top pasta, dip bread in, top chicken or shrimp, or just freeze.  Here are a couple ways you could use your leftovers: homemade ravioli with pesto alfredo cream sauce, pesto pasta salad, or pesto shrimp angel hair.  Let me know if you can even slightly hold yourself back in devouring any of these dishes and I'll give you the gold medal on the winner's podium like I did these Nature Sweet tomatoes!
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