Monday, April 15, 2013

Quick BBQ Sandwiches

This recipe came out of a Cooking Light Magazine and was featured in the "Budget Cooking" section.  Gotta love that, right?  With the price of groceries (and everything else) these days, it's always nice to make a meal that can feed your entire family and not break the bank.  This meal (corn included) feeds 4 people for under $10.  Nice!  And if you can find the tenderloin on sale (or buy the 2-pack at Costco and save one for later) then it would be even more budget friendly!  For the delicious corn you see pictured, you just brush it with olive oil and grill it then sprinkle with smoked paprika.)  This recipe also included a homemade slaw, but we love Katie's Homesyle Mustard Slaw in a jar so that what we used instead.  Plus, I like to take some shortcuts when cooking weeknight dinners because I'm usually cooking with little ones at my feet.  You moms know how it is...weeknight cooking can be hectic!  A little shortcut never hurt anybody!

What You'll Need:
1/2 cup ketchup
3 Tbs cider vinegar
1 Tbs soy sauce (we use low sodium)
2 tsp Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1 (1 lb) pork tenderloin, trimmed and halved lengthwise
Cooking Spray
4 Hamburger buns (I like whole wheat)

What You'll Do:
Preheat grill to high heat.
Combine first 8 ingredients in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
*Reserve 1/4 cup ketchup mixture, set aside.
Add pork to remaining ketchup mixture, turn to coat pork.
Place pork on grill rack covered with cooking spray.  Cover and grill 5 minutes.
Turn pork over and grill for 6 more minutes.  Thermometer should register 150 degrees in thickest portion.
Remove pork from grill and let rest 5 minutes.
Cut diagonally across the grain into thin slices.
Arrange buns, cut side down on grill rack covered in cooking spray.  Grill until golden brown and toasted.
Divide pork evenly onto buns and top with 1 Tbs reserved ketchup sauce.

*Make sure you remember to reserve some of the ketchup mixture!  I failed to do so and ended up having to take what the pork marinated in and boil the you-know-what out of it so that we could use it as a sauce.  It didn't kill us, so I guess it was okay...but I did create an extra step for myself.

Barbecue Turkey Meatballs

I've been trying to make healthy substitutions lately, and ground turkey instead of beef is one of them.  Pretty much anything that I would have made with beef, I now use turkey.  It honestly tastes just as good to me, and my family likes it just as well too.  I ran across this recipe in a Cooking Light magazine and loved that it was so simple.  My kind of recipe!  It has smoked paprika in it, which is a spice I did not have in my pantry.  In the past, whenever something called for smoked paprika, I would just substitute regular paprika for it.  This time, I decided to buy some to see what all the fuss is all about.  So glad I did!  That stuff is amazing!  The night after I used it in this recipe, I sprinkled it on some grilled corn on the cobb.  OhMy!  MmmMmm!  But, I digress...Mashed potatoes go great with these meatballs because of all the sauce.  Not the healthiest choice (especially since mine are laden with butter and sour cream), but so dang good.  Everything in moderation, right?

What You'll Need:
2 Tbs dark brown sugar
2 1/2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 (14.5 oz) can Rotel
1 1/4 lbs ground turkey
3 Tbs Italian-seasoned dry breadcrumbs
1 Tbs chili powder
Cooking spray

What You'll Do:
Place first 6 ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Combine turkey, breadcrumbs and chili powder in a large bowl.  Using wet hands, shape into 16 meatballs.
Heat a large skillet over med-hi heat.  Lightly coat pan with cooking spray.  Add meatballs and cook 2 minutes, browning on all sides.
Add tomato mixture to pan and bring to a simmer.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 6 minutes or until meatballs are done.

Green Beans Almandine

I was watching a cooking show one and the chef made these.  My mouth was watering and I couldn't wait to make them!  I've made them several times since and they are so delicious.  It takes your standard, boring green beans to a new level.  You'll never look at canned green beans the same! I just kindof throw all of this together, so my measurements aren't set in can adjust to your liking, or the quantity you need, but here's an idea of how to make them...

What You'll Need:
1 lb. Hericot Verts (long skinny green beans)
Olive Oil
2 Tbs. Butter
1/4 Cup Toasted Almonds (slivers or chopped)
Juice from 1/2 a Lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste

What You'll Do:
Blanch the hericot verts.  (Put them into boiling water for about 2-3 minutes, drain and plunge into ice bath to stop the cooking.)
In a saucepan over medium heat, add your olive oil and butter.  Once butter has melted, put in your drained hericot verts and toss.  Cook until they are al dente.  (They should have a bite to them...don't kill them with heat and make them limp.  That would be sad.)
Remove from heat and add in your toasted almonds and lemon juice. 

Easy Mexican Casserole

Sometimes, you just need a warm, gooey, comforting casserole.  And sometimes, you just crave Mexican food.  So, a Mexican Casserole definitely hits the spot when those times come!  The best thing about casseroles are that they feed alot of people, so when my In-Laws come to dinner, that's usually what I make.  That, and the fact that they are so dang easy to throw together.  You can't go wrong! 

What You'll Need:

1 pound lean ground beef

2 cups salsa

1 (16 ounce) can chili beans, drained

3 cups tortilla chips, crushed

2 cups sour cream

1 (2 ounce) can sliced black olives, drained

1/2 cup chopped green onion

1/2 cup chopped fresh tomato

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

What You'll Do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook ground beef until no longer pink. Stir in salsa, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in beans, and heat through.

Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread crushed tortilla chips in dish, and then spoon beef mixture over chips. Spread sour cream over beef, and sprinkle olives, green onion, and tomato over the sour cream. Top with Cheddar cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Roasted Salmon with Soy Marmalade Glaze and Soba Noodle Salad

I am a fish lover.  Tilapia, Mahi Mahi, Grouper, Tuna, Salmon...I love them all.  I love them just about any way you can prepare them.  From a simple piece of grilled fish to crab stuffed fish with a yummy sauce on top.  Mmm...put it in my mouth, yum!  I think alot of people are intimated by the thought of cooking fish at home.  Really, I think fish is one of the easist things you can cook at home.  Honestly, you can even put it in a dish with some butter, lemon slices, salt and pepper, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and microwave it for 10 minutes.  I'm serious!  You can microwave fish and it's still good.  Don't be intimidated people.  Just try it!  This particular recipe uses salmon and is Asian inspired.  Salmon is SO good for you!  It is loaded with protein and muscle-building amino acids and it's high in Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin D.  So you can feel good about eating this!  You start out by baking this fish and then broiling it. Watch it closely once the broiler is on so they don't burn!!! Don't go outside to take a picture of your kids only to return to a smoking kitchen and black salmon...which is almost what happened to me!  I served it with Edemame (you can buy it in the freezer section and steam it in it's own bag or just slightly boil it and then sprinkle on salt) and Soba Noodle Salad (recipe follows).  So, who needs that overpriced Asian restaurant with the long wait when you can cook Asian in your home?  I would end this post with some cool Japanese word, but I don't know any...

What You'll Need for the Salmon:
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1 1/2 tsp. lower sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 (6 ounce) salmon fillets with skin on
cooking spray
2 Tbs. thinly sliced green onions (I omitted b/c we don't care for them)
4 lemon wedges

What You'll Do:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Combine marmalade, soy sauce, salt, pepper, and garlic in a small bowl.
Arrange salmon fillets, skin side down, on a foil lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray.
Brush fillets evenly with half of the marmalade mixture.
Bake at 450 for 4 minutes.
Heat broiler to high (do not remove fish from oven); broil fish 6 minutes.  (Watch closely so they don't burn under broiler!!!  Don't go outsid
Spoon additional marmalade mixture onto fish and broil an additional 3 minutes or until desired doneness. 
Sprinkle with green onions and serve with lemon wedges. 

What You'll Need for the Soba Noodle Salad:
4 ounces Soba Noodles (you can find these on the Asian aisle)
1 1/2 Tbsp. lower sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp. dark sesame oil
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 cup julienne-cut red bell pepper (julienne is just a fancy word for cut into long, thin matchstick strips)
1/2 cup julienne-cut snow peas
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions (again I omitted this)

What You'll Do:
Cook Soba Noodles according to package, omitting salt and fat.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Drain well.
Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, lemon juice and crushed red pepper in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
Add noodles, red bell pepper, snow peas and green onions and toss well. 

Kefta Kebabs w/Roasted Pepper and Tomato Salad

I first saw this recipe in a cooking light magazine.  It reminded me of the kebabs that my best friend's mother used to make for us when we were kids.  They were from Iran and I loved eating at their house because her mom would make tradition Persian food which was so delicious and unlike anything I had ever had before.  OhMyGoodness...the yellow rice with the crusty bottom to it was to die for...oh how I could tear some of that up right now!  I really need to learn how to make that.  Um, sorry, I totally got off topic.  I tend to do that often when thinking about food...  Anyway, these kefta kebabs are actually Moroccan and are made of ground beef or lamb and typically mixed with cumin, paprika, minced onion, coriander and parsley. Cinnamon, hot ground pepper, and mint leaves are nice additions as well.  I planned on using a combo of beef and lamb to make these, but the lamb was $9.99 lb. so I passed and used beef only.  Traditionally, the meat, spices and herbs would be passed through a meat grinder together.  While I do have a ton of kitchen equipment, a meat grinder is not one of them.  So, I just used a bowl and spoon and a little elbow grease.  Ugh, I've always hated that term.  Elbow grease?  Gross!  I served these kebabs with a Roasted Pepper and Tomato Salad which could not be a better compliment to the meat.  Ya know what's really good the next day with the leftovers?  Get a wrap ( I like the FlatOut Spinach wraps) and put the meat and pepper tomato salad in it and wrap it up.  Score!  Also pictured here is Zucchini Rice.  Could not be easier!  Just prepare your rice as you normally would.  Then grate a zucchini into it.  Yup, that's all folks!  What an easy way to add veggies to an otherwise boring side dish.  Hope you like this one as much as my family and I do!

What You'll Need for the Kefta Kebabs:
1 lb.  ground beef or lamb (or a combination of the two)

1 medium onion, chopped very fine
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon hot ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves (optional)

What You'll Do:
Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, and leave for an hour or longer to allow the flavors to blend. The kefta is then ready to shape and cook.

To make kebabs, take small amounts of kefta and shape them into cylinder or sausage shapes. Skewer the meat, squeezing it to mold in the skewer.  (I have also just made these as patties like you would a hamburger.)
Cook over hot coals, approximately five minutes each side. (It may take less or more time, depending on how hot the coals are, and how thick you shaped the kefta.) Watch the kebabs carefully, so you don't dry out the kefta.

What You'll Need for the Roasted Pepper and Tomato Salad:
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

*2 roasted green peppers, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
2 to 3 teaspoons vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

What You'll Do:
Place the tomatoes, roasted green peppers, and parsley in a mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate if you won't be serving the salad right away.
When you're ready to serve the salad, add the salt, pepper, cumin, oil and vinegar. Toss or stir gently.
You can eat this salad with a spoon, but it's also delicious scooped up with a piece of crusty bread.

*To roast the peppers, just hold them over an open flame, rotating them to char all sides.  Once they are nice and black, put them in a ziplock bag.  They will steam in the bag and the blackend skin will release.  Use the bag to rub off the skin.  Take out of bag and proceed to take seeds out and chop. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Parmesan Baked Tomatoes

What's better than warm tomatoes smothered in parmesan cheese?  Not much!  These took about 3 minutes to assemble and only 10 minutes to cook.  I bet you already have everything you need to make them too!  Love that! 

What You Need
Tomatoes (duh)
Shredded Parmesan
EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
Salt and Pepper
Fresh Oregano (okay maybe you don't have this in your fridge, but I supposed dried oregano would be ok too)

What You Do
Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Cut the tomatoes lengthwise into approximately 1/3-inch slices. Place them on a baking sheet. Top with Parmesan, oregano, salt and pepper (season according to your taste). Drizzle with some olive oil and bake until tomatoes are tender and the cheese is melted, for about 10-15 minutes.

Coconut Oil, amazing stuff!

Have you ever heard of coconut oil?  Have you tried cooking with it?  Were you surprised, like me, that it comes in a solid form?  I expected it to be a liquid like olive oil or canola oil.  Weird!  My friend, Lana, introduced this to me.  She owned a gym at the time and is super knowledgeable about all things good and bad for you.  Not to mention she has a banging body...if I didn't love her so much, I'd hate her!  She's a good friend though, and the reason she told me about it is because she knows how worried I am about developing Alzheimer's.  It runs in my family and my mom is currently in the last stages of it.  Bless her heart.  Don't get me started...I won't be able to finish this post through tears.  Anyway, coconut oil is believed to fight Alzheimer's along with a myriad of other things from relieving stress, to preventing wrinkles, softening your hair and incresing motabolism.  In an nutshell, it's some crazy good stuff that you need to go buy today!  Surprisingly, it has no flavor.  It's not going to make your food taste like a pina coloda.  Slather it on toast, bake with it, sautee your shrimp in it or just smear it on your face.  It's up to you.

Not your usual boring Eggs

I've been trying to eat healthier lately...  I jump on the eat healthy & excersise bandwagon about every April.  The thought of bathing suite season puts a lump in my throat, like most other women I know.  I swear, flourescent lighting in dressing rooms should be against the law.  Anyway, eggs get boring, right?  My kid's pancakes with Nutella always look and smell so much better than the thought of cooking eggs (again).  So, this morning, I added a few simple additions to my eggs in the hopes of making them at least a little less boring.  I think it worked!  Oh, and that whole grain toast has a smearing of Coconut Oil on it instead of butter.  Have you tried coconut oil?  That post is coming up next!

What you Need
Red Bell Pepper
Fresh Herbs (whatever you have, I used oregano and basil)
Cheese of your choice (I used Swiss this morning because my Goat cheese smelled funky)

What You Do
Scramble up your eggs in a bowl and add salt and pepper to taste.  Add the fresh herbs.
Put a little coconut oil (or butter if you don't mind the extra blubber on your thighs) in a sautee pan and add the bell peppers. 
Once the peppers are soft, pour in the eggs with herbs and stir around with a rubber spatula.  Once they begin to set a little, add in the cheese. 
When your eggs are set and the cheese has melted, you are good to go!