Friday, September 28, 2012

Mini turkey and quinoa pizzas

It's the last intallment of Quinoa Week, people. I'm a little sad. I'm sure you are too. It will be ok...I have some delicous zucchini recipes to share next week. Does that make you feel better?  It does me :)
 
This is not so much of a recipe, as it is a way to use leftovers. When I made the turkey and quinoa stuffed peppers there was too much filling to fit inside just four peppers. What's my knee jerk reaction? Ummmm...duh. You throw it on some 'za! I make these little english muffin pizzas all the time at work for lunch (throwback post, this was my 4th post EVER). I always have the ingredients on hand to have an impromptu pizza throwdown...don't call yourself a pizza lover if you don't. Usually it's canadian bacon, turkey pepperoni, and mushrooms with some fresh mozz and a little pizza sauce. Today we add quinoa....muahhahahaha (that's an evil laugh if you couldn't tell...be scared, be impressed).
 

I loaded the turkey quinoa mixture onto an english muffin that I had already slathered in pizza sauce, and then topped it with fresh grated mozzarella and italian seasoning. Baked for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. And then I scarfed. And I scarfed.


And I ate half a leftover pepper as a side. I literally can't get enough. It's a problem, people.


And this ends our lovely week long visit to the fairytale land of quinoa...I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I will be coming back frequently but hopefully this weeklong stint will ease my obsession. Just a little?

What else am I obsessing about,  you ask?! Ohhhhhh, just that about 30 of my closest girly friends and lady family members are on their way to come visit me for the shower and bachelorette party my MOH and bridesmaids are throwing me. No big D. The seconds feel like hours right now. Longest. Day. Ever. Can't waaaaiiiiiiit to see you all! Have a great weekend, all!



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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Chicken parmesan quinoa

Are you sick of me yet? Sick of that Q word yet? Sorry folks...I'm here to enlighten the world and force this upon you like one of those people who takes up the whole armrest on an airplane, I'm getting right up in your grill with this shizz, and it might be a little uncomfortable for a bit, until you break and open the doors to the new wonderous world of this superfood. I know of one convert (shout out to Desiree!) who tried quinoa for the first time this week after apprehension much like my own before I embarked on this journey. My mission is to see how many more I can get to see the light...don't worry, next week I am out of quinoa recipes...for now. You will get a break. The end is near. Thanks for your patience :)

Like I said yesterday...subbing quinoa for pastas is my jam lately. I had some pasta sauce in the fridge with no intended purpose (I think I originally opened it like a heathen to dip bread in one day when I was starving) so my mind was at work trying to find the sauce a home when the quinoa jumped up and bit me in the face...again. I'm not sure if I ever need pasta in my life again. That's a bold faced lie, by the way. Pasta will always have a large guest bedroom in my heart...our relationship ain't goin' nowhere.

2 chicken breasts, seasoned and baked
1 jar your fave pasta sauce
fresh shaved parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic
2 cups quinoa
4 cups chicken broth
1 can mushrooms
1/2 bag spinach
crushed red pepper to taste
1 T olive oil
1 T Italian seasoning

This will be prepared much like the other recipes this week, the spinach artichoke chicken quinoa and the caribbean shrimp and asparagus quinoa, in case you haven't been attending class. Boil the rinsed quinoa in the chicken broth until the liquid is absorbed. While this is happening, work your magic in another skillet sauteing the mushrooms, spinach, and garlic cloves in the olive oil until they are softened. Add the pasta sauce, crushed red pepper, and italian seasoning and let the sauce simmer. Add the cooked, diced chicken (I just seasoned and baked it at 400 degrees until it was no longer pink inside) to the sauce, and add the quinoa to the whole mix. Sprinkle it with fresh shaved parmesan cheese to make it all perdy like...

You can either serve now or do as the ultimate food hoarder did this week and freeze it in a 13x9 pan to bake later. Thaw to bake it at 400 degrees until warmed throughout, you may have to add chicken broth to it to allow the quinoa to soak some of it up and avoid drying out, but it will be just as yumtastical the second time around. This was one that I plan on serving my girlfriends (who are quinoa virgins) sometime to break them into it...it's a simple one for the picky ones that I just know they'll enjoy (if a person doesn't enjoy chicken parm, they don't deserve to breathe in my world)! Hope you do too :)





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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Spinach artichoke chicken quinoa

Confession: all the quinoa meals this week were made on the same night.  And then they were frozen(besides the turkey and quinoa stuffed peppers, those were devoured immediately). I have not even touched them for dinner yet. Weeeelllllll, I touched them. I tasted the crap out of them before freezing them. I couldn't figure out which was my favorite one...they're like my beloved children, from the creepy food freak corner of my brain, and I just can't pick one to favor.

I keep coming across these pasta recipes that I need to try. But I also need to fit in my wedding dress is  few weeks. Alterations are done, people...it's crunch time here, no weight gain allowed, no matter how good the pasta looks! My solution? Skinny up the ingredients list as well as subbing quinoa for pasta! This method hasn't failed me yet. If you don't love spinach artichoke dip, then this probably isn't for you...but if you're a spin dip freakazoid like this chick (pointing two thumbs at myself), then you're going to love this stuff! It's very rich so it tastes decadent which means you don't need to eat 5 lbs of it to be satisfied. It feels like you're being oh so bad but then you remember it's quinoa so it's oh so good for you. It's a taste bud conundrum if I've ever experienced one. See what your buds and buddettes think of this!

4 oz fat free cream cheese
1 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup skim milk
2 chicken breasts, seasoned, baked, and diced
1/2 bag fresh spinach
1 can artichoke hearts
2 cups quinoa, rinsed
4 cups chicken broth
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T crushed red pepper (or to taste)

Cook the quinoa like normal, boiling in the chicken broth until the liquid is absorbed. Add the artichoke hearts, spinach, and garlic stirring the mixture continuously while it cooks for 5 minutes. Add the greek yogurt, cream cheese, milk, and crushed red pepper and cook another 5 minutes, until the mixture is thick, creamy, and warm throughout. Add your cooked chicken and stir. Serve immediately or freeze for later.

If freezing, thaw the 13x9 container before cooking. Cook until warmed throughout at 400 degrees. You may have to add some chicken broth or skim milk if the quinoa dries out a bit, but that won't hurt the taste at all. I'm telling you people, nothing can hurt the taste of this concoction. It's like spinach artichoke dip married it's opposite healthy counterpart that it met in college, it was never supposed to work between them because she's a partier who stays up late stuffing her face with crap and he's a healthy marathon runner who gets up early to work out, but they're so perfect together their marriage lasts forever and they can never be separated. They each bring out the best in each other, and that's what a real marriage is all about, am I right!? Put your face in this pile of love and tell me you're not impressed with their commitment to one another...


 





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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Caribbean shrimp and asparagus quinoa

This recipe came to me as a mixture of caribbean shrimp and rice and this mango salsa. Don't ask me how. Things like this just happen to me. I've had a couple mangos in the fridge for a bit planning on making seafood to cover in this phenomenal fruit salsa but for some reason I wasn't ever craving it. They were getting to the brink of going bad when I thought I could somehow work some quinoa in with them...I'm fricking obsessed, dudes. Like batshit crazy obsessed. Like dream about it at night obsessed. Like I made 3 quinoa meals in one night that had been floating around in my brain and froze them obsessed. It's bad. I don't think there are any QA (quinoaholics anonymous) meetings in my area, but if you hear of any, let a girl know.

1 minced jalapeno
2 mangos, diced
1 bag uncooked shrimp, deveined and detailed, or whatever you call it when you only have the poppable shrimpies left
2 cups quinoa, rinsed
4 cups chicken broth
1 bunch asparagus, cut up
1 McCormick Caribbean citrus seafood marinade (blue packet in the spice aisle)
1 T olive oil

Cook the quinoa per usual in the chicken broth,  until it has soaked up most all of the liquid and grown to twice the amount you started with. In a separate skillet, heat the olive oil and saute shrimp, asparagus, mangos, and jalapenos until the shrimp is cooked through and pink. Mix your seafood marinade with water (it calls for oil but I skipped that part) and pour over the shrimp mixture to season. After cooking for about 2 minutes, add the shrimp mixture to the prepared quinoa and mix throughly. Go ahead and serve it now, while the flavas are punching you in the face. 

If you want to freeze it like I did, add it to a 13x9 pan, throw it in the freezer, and thaw it when you're ready to cook it. Bake at 400 degrees until warmed through, you might need to add some chicken broth for the quinoa to soak up if it's dry. You now have a full healthy, smack your head against a wall meal in your freezer to pull out and enjoy any day you don't feel like cooking. Screw QA, I'm happy with my quinoa problem. And you will be too after trying this....this stuff is gooooooooood. Main man ate a whole bowl full before he would let me freeze it!


 



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Monday, September 24, 2012

Turkey and quinoa stuffed peppers

It's quinoa week up in herrrrrrr. I've been living in a little quinoa heaven the last month or so and should probably purge my queue of all the recipes I've got for you, before embarking on even more quinoa adventures I have lined up for meself and me main man. We have quinoa once a week (at least) these days...it's not too often that we run into something healthy that we both just lurve to chow on to the same level, so I've been really experimenting with new variations to keep the taste buds a jumpin' and the excitement levels a risin' round these parts. Did you see how I went all hip-hop at the beginning and all country at the end of this paragraph...Im so multi-cultural.
 
These were simple, easy, yummy, and healthy. Is there anything else you could ask for? No, it won't do your laundry for you. That would be nice though. This is a great weeknight meal that you can have the filling prepared for ahead of time so your dinner will take only the 20 minute bake time. I actually made this meal for walk/dinner night with Leslie a few weeks ago and hadn't gotten around to posting it. Every scrap of the leftover peppers was missing the next day. I think the mouse is back, I just don't know how he gets in the fridge??  :)
 
1 lb ground white meat turkey
1 cup rinsed quinoa (very important to rinse it so you don't get the bitter taste)
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup marinara sauce
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 large white onion, diced
fresh mozzarella cheese for topping
1 T italian seasoning
4 green peppers, seeds and flesh inside removed
You could add mushrooms, spinach, whatever else you would put in with a pasta/meat sauce...
 
I used to be petrified to cook quinoa, and I'm a little perturbed at myself for waiting so long to try it, because it's really not a tough thing to master at all. You always use twice the amount of liquid as the amount of dry quinoa you have, and your quinoa will double in size after absorbing it. So here we used one cup, add 2 cups of broth (I think it adds more flavor than water, but you could use water if you like), and when it's doen you have 2 cups of cooked quinoa. Boom shaka-laka...there's the hip-hoppy-ness again. See how I can switch back and forth?
 
So put your chicken broth in a large skillet pan, get it to boil, and add your rinsed quinoa to it. Stir while it cooks until it's absorbed all the liquid. While you're doing this, you can be browning your turkey (or hamburger if you prefer) in another skillet if you're all multi-tasker extraordinaire like I am. Preheat the hot box (oven) to 400 degrees. Add the onion to the turkey and cook, add the italian seasoning and garlic for another couple minutes of saute time. Finally add the cooked quinoa and the marinara sauce to the mix and you've got yourself some filling, bud!
 
Spoon that lovely meat mixture into your peppers, and throw them in the oven to bake for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, take them out and sprinkle a gorgeous layer of fresh mozzarella on top before returning it to it's hot home for another 5 minutes. Take them out of the oven and serve yourself some of that goodness!
 

Don't hate me if you get 5 quinoa recipes this week...because that's what you're getting. Instead, take it as a hint, and get on the quinoa train because I'm pulling it into your station this week. Pack your bags, fellers! Country again...see how I did that? Happy Monday, all!



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Friday, September 21, 2012

Cheesy veggie chowder

Do you ever come home and just neeeeeed to cook? Like you had such a crappy day, that all you wanna do is slice and chop and stir and season and make something yummy so that you can feel like something decent came out of the craptastical mess of a day? Oh, you say I need therapy? This is my therapy, folks. As any good food hoarder knows, it gave me a sense of peace inside to use up my almost-going-bad veggies in the fridge, have a meal in the freezer for later, and work out my stress in a productive way...all at the same time! I don't really remember what got my goat that day (Is that not the weirdest saying ever?? What goat? I don't have a goat to get.) but I do know that it all melted away into this big pot of soup.  Waaaaaaay cheaper than a shrink, people. Give it a shot...you can send me the money you would've spent at therapy if it helps :)

I doubled this entire recipe and froze it. You can keep it singlified (Is that a word? Eh, you knew what I meant...) if you want, you can eat it right away if you want, you can cook it all and throw it in the garbage disposal if that's the way your therapy works...no one is judging here. I will tell you that it puts a nice little cozy, sleeping-bag-lined corner in your heart, where you can go and hide when you have another bad day, to know that you have a big batch of homemade soup to throw on and enjoy when your therapy is needing to sit on the couch and veg rather than be productive. Different days call for different therapies, my friends...we all know that!

I used half of my doubled batch to serve to some friends who came over for dinner and girl talk...and I can tell you that this soup is mom-approved, toddler approved, and main man approved. I don't know who else's stamp of approval you would even need...the only person really missing there is the Pope.  Get yo tush to therapy!

2 T butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped carrott
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 T minced garlic
4 cups chicken broth (I use low sodium)
2 large baking potatoes, chopped up
1 T flour
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup milk
2 cups chopped broccoli
2 heaping cups shredded cheddar cheese

Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add onions, carrots, and celery to saute until tender. Add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and potatoes and cook until potates are tender. Mix flour with water, add, and stir soup until slightly thickened. Add milk and broccoli and cook until broccoli is tender and soup is heated through. Stir in cheese and allow to melt. Top with extra cheese and bacon bits if you feel the need like I did...

If you freeze it, you may need to add a little milk or half and half when you're reheating in order to give it that creaminess again...a cup or so should do. You could add ham to this if you want some meat in your soup as well. Just suggestions...it's perdy perfect as is.

P.S. The warm, cozy, sleeping bag spot is still in my heart corner knowing I have the other half of this batch and a batch of the tomato basil soup hanging out together in my hoarding nest (a.k.a. my deepfreeze) together waiting for the next cool day where a soup craving slams me in the face. I hope you find a cozy corner and some free therapy this weekend...happy Friday, all!






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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Main Man's goulash

Main man has a handful of main dishes that I'm not even allowed to cook. If we're having goulash, stroganoff, and sometimes spagetti or tacos...he takes the reigns and I know I've got the night off from cooking dinner. A lot of times, this falls on Sunday where I can sit in the kitchen with him and visit while he works...this is why Sunday is my favorite day of the week (which really means something because it's very abruptly followed by Monday and I'm not a fan of those).  He gets all camera shy and embarrassed when I take pics of him but I enjoy watching him stir and mix and prepare...not much measuring going on, but it always ends up tasting just like comfort food should taste.
 
As I said, there's not a whole lot of measuring with his cooking, and I do believe he uses different ingredients and different quantities each time. If we have everything he wants on hand, he uses:
 
2 lbs ground beef (could use ground turkey)
1 package elbow noodles
2 tomatoes, diced
1.5-2 large cans tomato juice (reserve some for leftovers, they tend to dry out after being refrigerated)
1 onion, diced
1 can mushrooms
3-5 cloves minced garlic
shredded cheese
fresh cracked pepper
seasoned salt
garlic powder
 
 

He starts out by browning his hamburger meat in a large skillet. While that is going, he is simultaneously boiling water to throw his noods in to boil. He's a multi-tasker, that's why I'm marrying him in a month :)


After the hamburger is browned and the grease is drained, we add the garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, and spices (cracked pepper, garlic powder, and seasoned salt are all to taste but we use a lot, so around 2 t each).  Saute for a bit more to cook the veggies and meld the flavas.


Once the noods are almost done, drain them and add them back to the pot. Add a little butter (1 T-ish) and add the meat mixture into the pot as well. Stir and add the tomato juice. Here's where he is a stickler. You have to let this stuff simmer for an hour to let the noods soak up the juice and the spices, let the meat soak into the noods, and let it all become one big happy family before actually eating it. Main man does a walk by taste test every 15 minutes or so, just to see how the family is getting along, and then proclaims how much longer he thinks it's going to take for them to be at peace with each other and become one. I have a feeling this is an arbitrary time frame, and that he really just enjoys the taste testing and workup to the meal, but I like to watch his process as much as he insists on doing it so it's a win-win. Top with cheese and fresh cracked pepper, serve with garlic bread to dip, and a glass of skim milk and you just entered heaven, my friend!


I'll never understand how somehow the juice thickens into more of a sauce, and sends this downhome comfortable feeling right into your spinal column. In a way, it's like goulash soup, because the noods tend to get so limp with tomato juice love that you don't even have to chew them much to eat them. I never used to be a goulash fan until I had Main man's version, and I think it may have to do a lot with the feelings I get watching him prepare it as much as it has to do with the actual taste of it. It tastes like home on a Sunday evening with a couch cuddle and a fire in the near future...and that's one of my favorite tastes in the world.



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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Greek yogurt chicken

As you know, I'm always looking for a new way to do my chicken boobs (yes, I know I have the sense of humor of a 12 year old). Chicken is such a lean meat, and I've always loved it, but it can be very boring if you're not careful. I'm pretty much a sucker to try anything on pinterest that claims to be the best chicken on the planet....I'll be the judge of that, thank you.
 
This one was an easy decision because I already had everything to make it in the house. It sounded like the greek yogurt would keep the chicken damp. I know 'damp' doesn't sound as appetizing as the 'm' word when you're discussing food, but I can't even bring myself to type it. M. Mo. Moi. Mois.  There, I tried...that's all the farther I can get. It's my most hated word. Does everyone have a hated word that they just cringe when people say? It just sceeves me out to even think the word in my head...we have to move on now.
 
4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1 cup plain greek yogurt (I used Oikos)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese - grated
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper


Directions:


1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2) Combine greek yogurt, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, seasoned salt, and pepper in a bowl.

3) Line baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.

4) Coat each chicken breast in greek yogurt mixture and place on foiled baking sheet.

5) Bake for 45 minutes.

This was perfectly paired with the mac and cheese quinoa I posted last week. I kept going between the two, taking bites, and trying to figure out which one I liked best. I never reached a conclusion, and then my food was gone. Sadface.  Happy hump day, all!
 




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Monday, September 17, 2012

Turkey apple panini

Soup and sammy, anyone? It's pretty much officially Fall here in Iowa....I heard 30 degrees tomorrow morning with a chance of frost tonight, we have leaves falling in the pool, it cools down to an awesome windows open sleeping temp in the evenings, and of course, football season is here (GO STATE, we're 3-0)!!
 
I love Fall...it's kinda like Sundays though. I adore Sundays, it's probably my favorite day of the week because I always get to spend the whole day with Main Man no matter what (usually). We don't tend to leave the house on Sundays to do much...we've been known to be very productive or very lazy, depending on what the activities were for the previous part of the weekend. But Sundays always have that ominous, you better get your shit together, this week is comin' atcha feeling. Or is that just me?  Well, Fall has that same feeling for me...I love it while it's here but it also signifies to the Winter-hatin' section of my brain that my days are numbered before I have to start wearing a heavy coat, dealing with icy roads and 10 ft snowdrifts, and seeing my breath. Blech.
 
Don't get me wrong...there are fun parts of Winter. Sitting by a fire with a glass of wine and book on a weekend afternoon is up there with  my favorite pastimes, but it will never trump sitting by the pool with a cold beer and a book.  Sorry, Charlie.  Soooooo, with Fall in full force, the only thing to do is embrace and enjoy it rather than think about the coming craptastical months.  We decided to embrace this soup and sammy combo to prove our love for Fall...and you should too, if you're not a total party pooper. I shared this tomato basil soup with you a couple weeks ago, and as I mentioned then, we ate this a couple nights and then I froze a bunch of it for the aforementioned cold season coming up. There's nothing that raises my spirits on a cold Winter night than coming home to hot, homemade soup on the stove...I can't wait to thaw this out in a couple months!
 
The sammy was a spur of the moment creation with stuff I had laying around. Throwing the apple on there was inspired by the salmon apple BLT's, if you've never added grilled apple to a sandwich, it's like you haven't even experienced love. There's no going back. I also used my fave sandwich spread, the garlic pepper mayo from the ham asparagus panini, because the flavor it gives is like elves dancing on your tongue to the beat of your favorite song...perfection. From there, I looked in the fridge...I had deli turkey, fresh spinach, and american cheese slices...so I sent them an invitation to the elf dance party. They accepted!
 
For 2 sandwiches:
4 slices wheat bread
fresh spinach
1 clove minced garlic
2 T olive oil mayo
1 t cracked pepper
8 slices deli turkey
2 slice american cheese
1 apple (green delicious is great but all I had was red delicious)
 
I used my Griddler for this, but you could use a grill pan, or an actual grill if you like. You could even do it in a normal pan on the stove so it's like a grilled cheese. The grill marks from the Griddler are fun, but they are not required dress code for the invite list to this party. Slice the apple into thin slices, and grill them on each side until warmed throughout.
 
Mix the garlic, pepper, and mayo together. Spread it on two pieces of bread. Layer the turkey, grilled apple slices, spinach, and cheese and top with your other piece of bread. Throw that baby on the Griddler for about 5-8 minutes on medium until it's all melty and perdy. Now hurry and go get your party pants on, and serve!
 
 
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Friday, September 14, 2012

Mac and cheese quinoa

Back to your regularly scheduled programming. I fell off the wagon yesterday, had a personal day, and never posted.  Ground me. Send me to my room. Seriously...can someone please send me to my room so I can get a nap up in here??! Fist pump that it's Friday, double fist pump that the rents are coming this weekend for some wedding planning fun, and triple de dipple (you know what I mean even when I speak my own language, right?) fist pump that Brudder Ben is coming back into the country from being gone for a whole YEAR tomorrow night!!!!
 
My younger bro, Benny Boo, has been a private contracter for the US for the last 4 years since he got out of the Air Guard. He was most recently stationed in Abu Dhabi ("luckyyyyyyy" --said in my best Napolean Dynamite voice) but was in Afghanistan previous to that and has been in Iraq for the other deployments. I am so stinking proud of that kid for the position he's put himself in at such a young age, he has worked so hard for the last few years and now has the financial freedom to decide what he wants to do with his life. The kid is waaaay smarter than me, and the only reason I'm allowing myself to that is because he doesn't read this blog...but it's true. I can't wait to see his face and I only hope that he shaved his wretched beard off so I can avoid the prickly hug...
 
Anyway...this dish has nothing to do with him. Helluva segue, huh!? It is delish though. And Main Man loved it, so that's a plus for any healthy dish. I've sort of been addicted to quinoa since purchasing a 5 lb bag of it from Costco. I've tried all sorts of quinoa dishes, so don't get mad when I start posting quinoa every day...Im thinking I might have to change the name of the blog or something if I don't spread them out. My favorite so far is the Mediterranean quinoa and chicken skillet, which happens to be a recipe I adapted from Iowa Girl Eats, which is where I got this recipe for the mac and cheese version.
 
I'm gonna be honest...if you're looking for a substitute for mac and cheese, this just isn't going to cut it. It's very obviously different, it's kinda like a grown up mac and cheese. I loved the stuff and Main Man devoured it, as I mentioned, but I am not sure how a kid would do with this stuff since it's such a different texture than your standard box of Kraft. But we don't have kids (yet) so the only picky palatte I have to worry about is my own (Main Man will scarf on most anything).
 
1.5 cups quinoa
3 cups chicken broth
2 cloves garlic (I used 4, I always double the garlic)
2 large egg yolks
1 cup skim milk
1.5 cups grated cheddar cheese, plus a little more for sprinkling on top
1/2 cup diced cherry tomatoes
2 diced cajun red peppers
1 t seasoning salt (like Lawry's)
 
The veggies are optional, I liked the color and the depth of flava flav they gave, but you could also add crushed red pepper, green/yellow/red bell pepper, green onions, leeks, chives, or whatever floats your metaphorical boat. You could also top this with salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, panko bread crumbs, etc. Heck, you could even add some chicken and some buffalo sauce to make it buffalo chicken mac and cheese. You get the picture.
 
Spray your non-stick skillet with cooking spray, and saute the veggies (garlic, cherry tomatoes, and cajun red peppers if you're me) for a couple minutes. Add the quinoa, chicken broth, and seasoning salt to the skillet. Cover and reduce heat to med-low and simmer for 15-20 minutes or more (depending on when most of the liquid has been absorbed.
 
Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Preaheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 13x9 inch dish with cooking spray. Whisk together eggs and milk in a large bowl. Fold in quinoa mixture and cheese. Stir very well and let some of the cheese melt. It's going to seem perdy dern soupy, but don't worry...the baking works it's magic for that problemo. Transfer to the baking dish and if using panko, add to the top now. Sprinkle on the extra cheese and throw it in the oven for 25-35 minutes (until browned around the edges and no excess liquid left). Scoop up into a bowl and serve to your cheese loving fiance so he can gobble it down audibly while praising your cooking skills. Boom. 
 

This size dish is supposed to serve 6 people and contains 339 calories per serving. Not bad atall. Quinoa is my new BFF.


On with your Friday. Let's get through this work day and enjoy the weekend!



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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tony's bacon ranch pasta salad

I know it's getting a little past potluck season, but everyone can use a stellar pasta salad recipe to keep in their arsenal, can't they!? Tony is one of my good friends from high school and for a single dude, he sure can cook! He always brings the best stuff to parties, and he actually taught me how to make my first bolognese sauce...true story. He brought this bacon ranch pasta to the White Trash Bash this summer...it's an annual thing, we're classy like that. I begged him for the recipe after taking down my weight in this stuff. I literally don't think I ate anything else that day, just a huge plate of pasta salad!

1 package uncooked tri color rotini pasta (I used elbow macaroni)
10 slices of bacon (Tony says "mmmmmm!! more if eating some while cooking")
1 cup mayo (I used greek yogurt)
3 T dry ranch salad dressing mix
1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 t garlic pepper
1/2 cup milk, or more if dry
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 can sliced black olives
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Bring a large pot of slightly salted water to a boil, stir in pasta and cook for 10-12 minutes or until al dente, drain. Oh, and just so you know...this trick you see all over Pinterest about water not boiling over if you lay a wooden spoon over the top. It works. I about pooped myself. It boiled right up to the top and almost over and then just started backing off. Don't ask me how it works, all I know is that it does. It's my new fave magic trick...give it a shot!



Place bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook. Eat extra bacon as desired. Drain and cut into pieces. I prefer to use cooking scissors so I don't burn my fingers.

In a large bowl, mix mayo, ranch dressing mix, garlic powder, and garlic pepper. Stir in milk unti lsmooth. Place bacon, tomato, black olives, and cheese in bowl and toss to coat with dressing. Cover and chill at least an hour in the fridge. Overnight allows the noodles to soak up the flavors a little bit more.

Toss with additional milk if the salad seems a bit dry. Or you can add ranch dressing to moisten it up if you are a ranch fan.


When I made this, I didn't want to waste half a ranch packet so I used the whole thing....bad move. I loooooove ranch but it was just soooo salty! So don't pull an Abby and ruin this shizz by being a hoarder. If you can squeaze in another potluck, or even if there's a warm football Saturday tailgate party you're hitting...throw this in your cooler and watch it disappear!  Happy hump day, all! I'll leave you with a pic of Main Man and I's 4th annual WTB costumes from this year...don't be perving on those legs ladies, those suckers are alllllll mine!




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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Today

The weather today is much like it was 11 years ago...its funny how things like that stick out in your mind. How I remember that it was sunny with a little chill in the air that day when I woke up is completely beyond me. The whole morning is so vivid that it's like it happened last week, not last decade. The details stick out more than any morning even a month ago. I know everyone who was old enough to remember has these same memories of that day...everyone knows exactly what they were doing when the towers fell. My memory is no different...

September 10 is my best friend's birthday, I've celebrated with her every year until she moved to Arizona (sadface). That year was no different. I was a freshman in college, it was my bff's birthday, so obviously I was skipping class the next day like any normal kid that is fresh out of their parents house and realizes they can do what they want. We had a bunch of friends from high school that lived in Ankeny so we headed that way for the night to celebrate. One of the guys was a trucker so he was on the road a lot, and I always claimed his bed when he was gone. It was clutch to have a bedroom to use when visiting people, to avoid the standard pranks like flour in the hand and the tickle to the face, or the hand in warm water trick. We were mature for our age.

Well, I awoke that morning to Bea (the birthday girl) yelling at me to get up, a plane ran into a building and I need to see this. I wasn't impressed. I didn't know anyone flying that day, the building wasn't near us, why did I need to get up?? An airplane accident had no bearing on my sleeping in. A terrorist attack didn't even cross my mind. I rolled over and covered my head with a pillow. She was persistent though, and the minute I saw the news coverage, I thanked her for getting me up. I knew this was a big deal. This was actually the biggest deal I had seen in my lifetime. America was attacked...on our own soil. While we watched the news coverage of the aftermath of the first plane, the second plane came into view. It was like watching a movie but you knew it was real life. It was the single craziest moment I've ever witnessed, to this day. The second plane hit, and as the day continued, the Pentagon was hit. It was a reality jolt that the world had just changed. Our America was being attacked. We were being attacked.

In the following days, more information came out, as well as the story of the heroic passengers of the 4th plane who actually took it down before it reached its target. It made me wonder what I would have done if I were in that situation. Would I have had the courage to act? I remember the week after 9/11 when a good friend of mine walked right into a recruiter's office and signed up for the military. After seeing the devastation these terrorists had caused on our homeland, he had to do something. I was scared for him, I couldn't understand how he would want to put himself in danger after seeing what had happened to others. And he couldn't understand how it wasn't the most obvious decision in the world. That's the American spirit, right there. That's what I think of when I think of the heart of this country.

In the years since 9/11, I have had a boyfriend in Iraq, a brother in Iraq and in Afghanistan, and I have personally known a handful of soldiers who have lost their lives overseas. The most recent and the one that hit home the most was a good friend from college, James Justice. "Juice" is survived by his wife and daughter, who live only a few miles from me. I can't really say why his death affected me like it did. Maybe because I could empathize with his wife, Amanda, and her struggle to keep it together for their daughter during the aftermath of his death. Maybe it was imagining his daughter, whose diapers I had changed and who I had watched grow from an infant to a young lady (mainly via her mom's facebook page), growing up without a real memory of her father, his sense of humor, and the personal knowledge of the kind of man he was (not just memories others told her about him). Maybe it was because it was a lesson in mortality, seeing him in his casket at his funeral, far too young to be going where he was headed. I hadn't seen him in a few years, and it made me regret not going to their Halloween party the year before or the football game we were invited over to go watch. It's hard not to connect these events in my mind like a dot to dot picture. When 9/11 happened, a lot of people's death warrants were signed, besides the ones that were taken that day. The thousands of future casualties of war were lined up, standing at attention, ready to fight to protect our soil and our people from having to worry about a travesty like that ever happening again. We don't have a draft these days...every single one of those men and women who have died in the fight since 9/11 made the choice to protect this nation. That's the type of men and women who are the backbone of this country. That's America.

Remember the sacrifice thousands of Americans have made, not just today, but every day you wake up to kiss your children or your spouse. Not once a year, but every morning you wake up to a crisp, sunny, Fall chill in the air...remember.





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Monday, September 10, 2012

Prosciutto wrapped scallops

I. Love. Scallops.  There, I said it. I've made them at home before, the small ones in a seafood pasta, but I've always been sort of leary of searing them at home. I hate the mess the grease makes popping out of the skillet, I never know when they're done (and we all know what a rubbery mess an overdone scallop is), and they're kinda spendy to be doing experiments with at home when there's a chance of turning them into rubberized dog food. But, you can't learn if you don't try, right?! Main Man got me a big ol' bag o' scallops at Costco a couple weekends ago and I went to town on them with a little recipe I found on a little blog called Blog is the new black...the author is so funny, downright adorable, and her and her fiance sound a LOT like Main Man and I...it's eerie. Anywho....onward.
 
One very important tip I've read in my scallop preparation information search, is to dry them out. Put them into a paper towel and sqeeeeeeaaaaaze all the liquid out of the little (or big) buggers and it will help them to cook evenly, eliminate a lot of the grease splatter, and just make you feel like you're doing something right. After that...your job is fairly simple. Here are the tools you will need to complete this assignment:
 
large scallops
prosciutto
cajun seasoning (I use Tony C's and I LOVE the stuff)
olive oil
 
Wrap the little lovelies in prosciutto (drying them also helps the prosciutto to stick to the scallops, so you don't even need toothpicks or anything to hold it on there). Good stuff.
 

Heat your olive oil up in a skillet and sear the scallops for about 2 minutes on each side...maybe a minute longer if needed. I actually had to pull one and cut into it to make sure it was done...as bad as rubberized scallops sounds, I wasn't about to unknowingly pop a raw one (made the mistake of ordering them as sushi once...won't be doing that again, blechhhhh).


Nestle your leetle babes on a cradle bed of szecuan mushrooms if you wanna be coo like us. "You ain't coo unless you pee yo pants!" Name that movie and you get a bonus scallop on your plate!  These would have been devine without the mushrooms actually, I think the flavor of the mushrooms sort of took over. I would probably put them on a bed of pasta with olive oil, parmesan, garlic, and cajun seasoning next time. Probably what I will end up doing with the other half of the big bag o' love.


Mmm, mmm, mmmm. Mouth is watering again. I need to learn to write my favorite posts after I've eaten lunch. I've been doing this for a couple years and still haven't learned that lesson. I never was a quick one...

 
Happy Monday, all!! Shoutout to my bridesmaid Bea who turns 31 today in the sunny state of Arizona...can't wait to see her the end of the month for my bachelorette party and shower!!
 



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Friday, September 7, 2012

Easy Peasy Garlic Chicken

It's Friday and I'm tiiiiiiiiired. I think the wedding planning is starting to sneak into my brain at night and hammer at my sleep sirens every time they go off so I lay awake for at leeeeast 2 hours before dozing off (fitfully at best). Here's to hoping my type A,  OCD personality doesn't keep me up for the next 6 weeks or I may crash dive into slumber standing at the alter. Some days I'm bursting with energy, others I've got just enough to make it through the day and get to the couch at night. This recipe is one for the latter. Super duper simple, super duper yummy (kinda tasted naughty like it was fried or something), and super duper on my radar for an easy weeknight meal to dump in my gullet before autopilot kicks in taking me to braindead zone. Plus, 4 ingredients....jump on that wagon and ride it all the way to your own couch. Mine's taken.

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T brown sugar
2 t olive oil

Preaheat oven to 500 degrees and lightly grease a casserole dish. In small saute pan, saute garlic with the oil until tender. Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar. Place chicken breasts in a prepared baking dish and cover with the garlic mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake uncovered for 15-30 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink inside.

 

Fat Stats:
Cals: 300 per breast
Fat: 6.4 g
Sodium: 141.3
Carbs: 14.5 g
Protein: 25.2g


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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tomato basil soup

I think I've told you about my most prized possession before. It is a cookbook my mom sent around to all our family members before I left for college, so everyone could write their favorite family recipes for me in their own handwriting. It has my late Grandma Mary's handwriting in there, it has my late Grandpa Jim's dictation of how to make his Sunday chili, it has Big Dan's famous stinkbait recipe....and I cherish the whole kit and kaboodle. I've cooked out of it a lot, I've even shared some with you, like Aunt Nicki's chicken pot pie.
 
Well, for my recent bridal shower in Rochester thrown by my cousin Betsy on the Kratoska side, I received an equally special gift in the form of a cookbook with more handwritten recipes from a lot of family I didn't have included in the original book. I have a post in the works about the amazing spread Betsy had laid out for us at the shower and will share some pics of the great weekend as well. I'm so excited to start making homemade apple pies with my new pie dish and apple corer, I look freaking goooooood in my new apron (Main Man says so), and I just couldn't wait to make the first recipe in the book to get good use out of the new soup tureen and bowls I received!  This recipe came from my Aunt Kris, and it was given to her from the head chef at a corporate building she worked at in Minneapolis before she moved to Arizona and begged him for it. This is a lightened up version of that soup but it is scrumdiddlyumptious, even if it skinny!
 
4 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 small onions, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
olive oil
1 quart milk (I used skim)
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 cup fresh chopped basil
1/2 cup flour
1 cup heavy cream (I used half and half)
1 t salt (I omitted this)
1 T sugar (I omitted this)
1 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste)
1.5 jalapenos processed to liquid in the food processor (I added this myself)
 
Saute all veggies and garlic in soup pot in olive oil until soft. Puree 3 cans of tomatoes, bay leaf, and jalapenos (if added) in food processor. Add this and remaining can of diced tomatoes (with juice) to veggies. Heat on medium. In separate bowl whisk together 2 cups milk and all the flour. Pour into tomato mixture and stir while thickening. Add remainder of milk and cream. Stir well. Add salt, sugar, and cayenne if using.  Simmer on low to medium heat at least 20 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Stire frequently to preven burning of milk and cream. Just before serving, add parsley and basil. Stir and serve (Makes about 16 cups).
 
I actually used my own tomatoes from the garden, blanched, peeled, and processed them in the food processor until they were the consistency I wanted...mainly liquid with some crushed chunks. You don't have to go to that amount of work unless you are a food hoarder and hate wasting your organic veggies rather than buying food. I also ate this for 2 nights with a sore throat from my puh-monia and froze the rest to thaw and enjoy when it gets a little cooler in the Fall. How awesome is it to have homemade soup to enjoy without having to do the work to get it?? Spectacularly awesome, that's how awesome. Main Man liked this way better than the roasted tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons, although he did say some grilled cheese croutons would be a nice addition. We'll see if he's lucky when I thaw this out...
  

Oh, how cute are you...I could just eat you up. And then I did :) Happy Thursday, all!


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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Italian stuffed zucchini

Oh, man, you guys. It's been a rough one, I tell ya! The long weekend was great, but I may have celebrated ISU's first win of the season a little too heartily. I also seem to be having a nasty bout with my allergies this week. I'm talking ice pick to the ear, throat swelling up type of shizz. It's super fun. But not to worry, I decided to come back to you all...I could never leave you :)
 
This recipe was made for us at the lake a few weeks ago by Dani, the neighbor...remember, she's the one who makes the WIDZ? Yeah, well it turns out she's also a pro at zucchini. And then Mallory brought me two of the biggest honkers you've ever seen from her garden, and I was all whispering in the veggie's ears "I know exactly what's happening to you two" and then laughing an evil witch cackle. I have fun.
 
Anywho...get zee ingredients and get started!
 
Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats (adapted from skinnytaste.com)
Servings: 8 • Size: 1 boat • Old Points: 3 pts • Points+: 4 pts
Calories: 153 • Fat: 7 g • Protein: 12.8 g • Carb: 9 g • Fiber: 2 g • Sugar: 2 g
Sodium: 372 mg

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 cups marinara sauce
  • 4 (31 oz total) medium zucchini
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 lb ground turkey  
  • 1/2 cup part skim shredded mozzarella (Polly-O)
  • 8 tsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T italian seasoning
  • 1/2 can mushrooms

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and using a spoon or melon baller, scoop out flesh, leaving 1/4" thick.

Brown your turkey and add mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, italian seasoning to the skillet to cook. When done, add marinara sauce and parmesan cheese. Scoop mixture into zucchini shells and cook at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Sprinkle fressh mozzarella on top for 10 minutes more cook time. Slice and serve!
 
 
I mean...even the boys were raving about these.  And you know that's like getting a 2 year old to like their veggies. Oh, did I just say that? I didn't mean it, fellas! Honest...
 


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