Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tilapia with Lemon Spaghetti

Like it or not, I'm a fan of Rachael Ray. I don't like everything she cooks, but I love her 30-minute meal concept. So occasionally after work I can catch her show on the food network. One day I happened to catch the Sea Note episode and when I saw her making this lemon spaghetti, I knew I had to try it. Along with the lemon spaghetti, she made flounder francese with toasted almonds, lemon and capers. My husband doesn't like flounder, and I don't think either of us are fond of capers - so I decided to try it with tilapia, seasoned with salt and pepper with a simple dip in egg then lightly fried in EVOO. The result - a seriously satisfying and somewhat healthy dish. I use light cream and high fiber pasta (Smart Taste). It's a way to get healthy fish into my somewhat picky husband.

Source: Rachael Ray

1 pound spaghetti
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (easily reduced)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 lemons, zested and juiced
1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy cream (I use light cream with excellent results)
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (omitted)
1/2 cup (10 or 12 leaves) fresh basil, very thinly sliced (omitted)

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and drop the spaghetti into the pot.

2. Heat a large deep skillet over low heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil and garlic and crushed red pepper flakes.

3. When the pasta has been cooking about 5 minutes, add lemon juice, a ladle of the cooking water from the pasta and the cream to the garlic and oil. Raise heat a bit to bring sauce to a bubble.

4. Drain pasta when it still has a good bite to it, al dente. Add lemon zest and half of the cheese to the cream sauce. Season the sauce with salt, to taste. Add pasta to pan and turn off heat. Toss the pasta with sauce a minute or 2, allowing it time to soak up the sauce.

5. Top the plates of pasta or platter with remaining cheese, parsley and basil.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Spicy Green Beans and Omaha Steaks Ribs

A while ago I received a gift card to Omaha Steaks. With that gift card, the hubs and I decided to buy some steaks and some baby back ribs. Tonight was baby back rib night. I knew the hubs wanted the perfect risotto with it, but I felt like I needed a vegetable (I'm a bad girl and don't eat veggies with all of my meals). And if you read my blog regularly, you know I like spicy food. Something you may not know about me is that one of my favorite vegetables is green beans. But canned green beans don't cut it - there was a time when they did - but those days are long gone. I learned about fresh frozen green beans and have been using them. But today I wanted REAL fresh green beans. So I stopped at the grocery store and grabbed some from the produce section. After sauteing these beans with a little bit of EVOO, chili oil, garlic, salt and pepper, the end result was fantastic! And get this - fresh, raw green beans are so much easier to cook than those frozen ones. Ok, ok, you might've known that already, but I didn't and am glad that I do now.

A note on the Omaha Steaks Baby Back Ribs: For the price ($42.99 for 2 lbs), it wasn't really worth it. They come fully cooked, and tasted good, but not as great as what I can get at an Outback or Longhorn Steakhouse restaurant for half the price - with no mess in the kitchen.

Source: me

1/2 pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed, and rinsed
1/2 tsp EVOO
1/8 tsp minced garlic (I uses jarred)
crushed red pepper to taste
salt/pepper to taste
a few Tbsp of chicken broth


1. Heat EVOO and chili oil in medium sized pan over medium heat.

2. Reduce heat to low and saute garlic until fragant (about 20-30 seconds).

3. Add green beans to pan. Season with crushed red pepper, a pinch of kosher salt and a few cracks of pepper and toss to coat.

4. Saute about 1 minute then add about 1 Tbsp of chicken broth. If this dries up pretty quickly, add another 1 Tbsp of chicken broth.

5. Continue sauteing, stirring frequently, until tender crisp or to your desired doneness.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Arroz Con Pollo

One of our FAVORITE meals is arroz con pollo. It's a dish I've been making since before I had my own kitchen. And I don't know why, but it's been a long time since I last made it. It's an indulgent dish, that's for sure. I mean, it's not exactly healthy to eat a big whoopass bowl of white rice for dinner, is it? Yeah, I didn't think so. Anyway, I guess it's a good thing I haven't made it in a while. But when I do make it, I have to make a big freaking pot of it, and sometimes there's not even enough for me to bring for lunch the next today. Like tonight - my mom stopped by and she took some home with her. Hubs had 2 bowls, I had one. All that's really left is the crispy rice from the bottom of the pot. Oh well. Trying to watch my weight I guess it's for the best.

Anyway, to make this dish, it's mostly done by tasting. My friend Marisol who I used to work with but has since moved to Florida (sniff) taught me how to make it, but when she taught me, it didn't include the chicken, and was really just Spanish Rice. Well, hubs and I decided we needed some more substance in the dish and one day I decided to add chicken to it, hence the name, arroz con pollo. And Lord knows there are probably a million and one different varieties of arroz con pollo, but this is the way we like it.

Source: me with Marisol's help

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
2 packets Goya Sazon
3 1/2 cups water
about 1/2 cup Goya Sofrito, or more to taste (1/4 - 1/2 of the jar)
1 Tbsp kosher salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder (or more to taste)
3 cups long grain rice
diced jalepeno to taste - for spicy, I add about 2 heaping spoonfuls (we used Cento jarred diced green jalepenos)


1. Heat oil in large nonstick pot. Add diced chicken and cook over medium heat until cooked through.

2. Open 1 packet of Sazon and sprinkle half of the packet over the chicken. Stir to coat.

3. Add water, the rest of the 2 packets of sazon, the sofrito, salt, pepper and garlic powder and stir. This is when you start tasting. You're aming for a salty, garlicky seasoned taste. I added 1 Tbsp of kosher flake salt and felt it needed some more. If you undersalt, you can always add salt to your individual serving when it's done. This works for us because hubs doesn't like too much salt on his food.

4. Once you have a nicely seasoned pot of water, add in your rice and jalepenos and stir. I like to also add in an extra few teaspoons of oil to keep the rice from sticking together. Keep stirring over medium-low heat until about 1/2 of the water is absorbed.

5. Cover and set the heat to low.

6. Stir every 5 minutes and re-cover - but here's the tricky part - after all of the water is absorbed, the rice in the bottom of the pot will begin to get crispy. You want to avoid stirring the crispy rice into the rest of the rice. Unless, of course, you like crispy rice. So when you stir, do so gently when reaching to the bottom of the pot.

7. After about 20-30 minutes, your rice should be steamed perfectly - once you get to 20 minutes, just start tasting it to check for doneness.

Hopefully someone will be interested and daring enough after reading all of my crazy directions to give this a try and end up loving the dish like we do :)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Blueberry Muffins

Once upon a Thursday I felt like baking something, so I delved into my file of recipes I've been wanting to try and came upon the blueberry muffin recipe from Cooks Illustrated. In an effort to make them healthier and after talking with Ashlee, I decided to sub 1/2 of the flour for a mixture of whole wheat flour and ground oatmeal.

This recipe is super simple to throw together, and the muffins came out super moist. And even better, they taste like a healthier muffin, but not in an "eww this is freaking nasty" kind of way.

BLUEBERRY MUFFINS, a little bit healthier
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 ground oatmeal
1/2 tsp table salt
1 egg
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces)
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 1/4 cups fat-free sour cream (10 oz.)
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position in oven and heat to 350 degrees.
2. Spray a standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
3. Whisk flour, whole wheat flour, ground oatmeal, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl.
4. In a second medium bowl, whish egg until well combined and light in color (about 20 seconds).
5. Add sugar to egg and whisk vigorously until thick and homogenous (about 30 seconds).
6. Add melted butter to wet mixture in 2 or 3 steps, whisking to combine after each addition.
7. Add sour cream to wet ingredients, whisking just to combine.
8. Add frozen berries to dry ingredients and toss gently to combine.
9. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and fold gently until batter comes together and berries are distributed evenly (about 20-30 seconds - small spots of flour may remain and batter will be thick).
10. Use an ice cream scoop or large spoon to drop batter into greased muffin tin.
11. Bake 25-30 minutes until light golden brown and toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.
12. Invert muffins onto wire rack, stand muffins upright, and cool at least 5 minutes.
Yield: 12 standard muffins

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Spicy Shrimp and Fettuccini

One day I was scouring for some healthy dishes. I came across this recipe featured in Cooking Light magazine. I love spicy, I love pasta, and I love shrimp, so I had to give this one a shot.

I made a few changes based on the ingredients I had on hand, and in the end it was great, a definite make-again dish, except I solemnly vow here and now to NEVER BUY FROZEN COOKED SHRIMP AGAIN! Ugh, NAAAAASTY! Anyway, I'll probably just stick to frozen raw shrimp from now on.

I also halved the recipe, but made the sauce as stated because I like a lot of sauce with my pasta.


8 oz. fettuccini (I used 4 oz of whole grain fettuccini for 2 servings)
1 Tbsp EVOO
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used 1/2 lb. of some nasty cooked frozen shrimp, yuck)
2 cups chopped plum tomatoes (I used a 14.5 oz. can of diced roma tomatoes)
2 Tbsp reduced-fat sour cream (I omitted as I had none on hand)
1 Tbsp tomato paste (I reduced to 1 tsp)
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1. Boil water and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
2. Heat oil in pan. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and saute 1 minute.
3. Add shrimp; saute 1 minute.
4. Add tomatoes, sour cream, tomato paste, basil and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
5. Stir in pasta and cook 1 minute or until heated through.
6. Plate and top with parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Wow, this is my first tag! I'm pretty excited about it. I've been tagged by Melissa over at Made by Melissa!

Here are the rules: Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

What was I doing ten years ago?
I was 16 years old, so it was the summer between my sophomore and junior years. I was probably just lazily wasting away my summer days, watching bad day-time tv and hanging out with friends on corners.

What are five (non-work) things on my to-do list for today?
1. Go grocery shopping.
2. Laundry.
3. Start a new book on my lunch break - Second Chance by Jane Green.
4. Decide on going out for dinner, or cooking.
5. Play with Daisy, my dog - love her!

Five snacks I enjoy:
1. Cheez-its/Cheez-its Party Mix

2. Green olives.
3. Hummus.
4. Pizza flavored Gold Fish.
5. Cookies/brownies.

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. Buy a house on the shoreline in New England.
2. Buy my mom, both of my sisters a nice house outside of the city and a reliable car.

3. Buy my husband a fast car.
4. Set up college funds for my nieces and nephews.
5. Travel, lots!

6. Quit my day job! I think I'll keep my night job, hehe - I kid, I kid :)

Places I’ve lived:
1. Pennsauken, NJ.
2. Cinnaminson, NJ.

3. Philadelphia, PA

Jobs I’ve had:
1. Worked the counter at Dunkin Donuts - until I caught scarlet fever a month after I started!
2. Worked at my mom's office for a paratransit company.
3. Administrative accountant assistant for a non-profit scientific research facility.
4. Different divisions of corporate retail.

5. The requisite babysitter.

I am tagging…
Ashlee of
Ashlee's Cooking - A Year in the Kitchen
Lindsey of Noodle Nights and Muffin Mornings
Liv of Mangia!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Homemade Pita

So of course, to go along with my hummus, I needed pita! A few weeks ago Ashlee blogged about making pita and I was intrigued! Never in my life would I have thought to make my own pita. Usually I just buy wheat pitas in the grocery store. I'm one of those people who is scared of yeast. After finding such detailed instructions here, I knew I had to try it, especially since Ashlee supplied my tahini to make hummus.

But then, Ashlee blogged a sort of different recipe using more whole wheat flour and brown sugar. I always need to use the best recipe I know of, so I decided to use Ashlee's recipe with the assistance of The Fresh Loaf's instructions.

In the end, it was sort of simple, but my pita didn't puff up. Still, they taste great and are an awesome compliment to my homemade hummus! I think in the future I'll save making homemade pita for special occassions - my kitchen's a mess!


2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (plus more for rolling)
1 packet Rapid Rise yeast
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 cup warm water


1. In your stand mixer bowl, mix the dry ingredients, including your rapid rise yeast.

2. In your stand mixer bowl, add EVOO and warm water to your dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until a ball forms. If all of the flour won't stick, add just a bit more water.

3. Fit your stand mixer with the dough hook. Kneed on low-speed for 10 minutes.

4. Prepare a large bowl by lightly greasing with oil (this is where your handy Misto sprayer comes in).

5. After the dough is done kneeding, transfer your dough ball to the oiled bowl. Roll the dough ball all around until it's lightly greased on all sides. Cover bowl with saran wrap and let rise for 90 minutes.

6. After the dough has risen and doubled in size, punch it down to release the gases.

7. Separate dough into 8 equally sized balls and cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel and let rest for 20 minutes.

8. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees, with your baking stone or inverted baking sheet inside. If using a baking sheet, place a piece of parchment paper on top.

9. After your dough balls have rested, roll out your dough balls onto a floured surface.

10. Bake as many pitas as will fit on your baking surface for 3 minutes. Remove, let cool and enjoy!


Hummus is something that I've been wanting to make on my own for a long time. Problem was, I couldn't find tahini in my local grocery stores. Finally, my blogger friend Ashlee offered to buy a jar for me and send it to me. I was so excited when I got it a couple weeks ago! So what perfect opportunity to make the hummus than a girls' weekend with some of my best friends?!

We're heading down the shore tonight, but I took the day off to prepare - laundry, making the hummus, right now I have my pita dough rising (hopefully they turn out great!), etc. At first I was nervous about how the hummus would turn out. But I kept tasting it and adjusting it here and there and it turned out SO FREAKING GOOD. I'm hooked, addicted, oh boy - is there hummus eaters anonymous? I can't wait to be making this on a regular basis, which I guess starts today :)

Source: Melissa

1 can of garbanzo beans, drained
juice of 1 lemon
3 Tbsp Tahini
1 clove of garlic
salt & pepper to taste
1. Put first 5 ingredients in food processor and pulse until finely choppped.
2. Turn on and stream in EVOO and process until smooth (about 2 tbsp, but I just eyeballed it until it was the consistency I liked.
3. Remove and garnish with paprika.
(Note: I also sprinkled some paprika and processed it in to add some more color)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Heaven... I mean Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

As far as chocolate chip cookies go, I love them, but I'm really picky. Well I found a few great recipes I really liked, but when I saw these chocolate chip cookie bars a/k/a Lunch Lady Bars, I thought to myself "I love the concept, and I love how easy they seem." So when I went to the store to grab some ingredients for dinner, I grabbed some chocolate chips. I had everything else on hand.

I didn't even have to break out my Kitchen Aid mixer for these (sadly I don't have enough counter space to keep mine out). But I love when I find great recipes that don't require the use of my Kitchen Aid. And seriously, when I took my first bite of these bars, I was in love. And considering how quick and easy they were to make, I'll definitely be reaching for this recipe whenever the craving for a chocolate chip cookie hits me!

Source: Allrecipes as adapted by Sherri

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup oil
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


1. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the sugars with the oil.

3. Add vanilla and eggs one at a time, mixing well.

4. Gradually add dry ingredients.

5. Stir in 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips.

6. Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil (if you use foil, spray with non-stick spray).

7. Spread the dough into the pan, then sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips on top.

8. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 15-25 minutes until light golden brown. [Note, mine took 30 minutes]

Thursday, July 3, 2008

No, really, it was perfect!

I'm an avid reader of The Pioneer Woman Cooks! Not only does she never cease to crack me up with her commentary, but her food always looks mouth watering. One day I came across her Perfect Risotto recipe. I thought nothing of it then because I thought risotto would be one of those things I would never even attempt to make. That is, until Lindsey made her lemon risotto with shrimp and peas a few weeks ago and I gave it a try. When I didnt have such great success with that recipe because I didn't like the pecorino romano cheese, I thought back to Pioneer Woman's Perfect Risotto. I rushed to her website/blog and feverishly copied down the ingredients and directions and set out to make up a half batch to have with some steaks my husband and I recently got from Omaha Steaks.

I set out to make this risotto with only parmesan cheese. When I was prepping everything, I decided to grate some of that pecorino romano I still have leftover from my last risotto attempt. In the end, this risotto turned out amazing, and was, in fact, perfect. :)


Here are the measurements scaled down for about 3 servings:

1/2 Tbsp EVOO
1/2 Tbsp butter (I only had unsalted in the fridge)
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 lb Arborio rice
32 oz. carton of reduced sodium chicken broth
1/4-1/2 cup light cream
1 cup grated cheese (your choice of parmesan, romano and/or asiago)
salt & pepper to taste
chopped chives


1. Heat oil and butter in skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent.

2. Add arborio rice to pan and stir. Add about 1/2 cup chicken broth and stir. Reduce heat to low. When broth is absorbed, add another 1/2 cup (I just used a ladle) and stir until absorbed, repeating process until rice is to desired tenderness.

3. Remove pan from heat and stir in the cheese.

4. Add a few splashes of cream and stir.

5. Stir in chopped chives, season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

6. Proceed to make the chocolate chip cookie bars blogged above!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Crustless Ham, Cheese and Spinach Quiche

I subscribe to Cooking Light magazine. Usually I have trouble finding something that interests me because I have such simple tastes. But this month page 160 just jumped out at me, so before I recycled my magazine, I tore this page out and set it aside. This golden nugget is for a Crustless Smoked Turkey and Spinach Quiche - of course, I had to adapt this recipe because I've never before seen smoked turkey ham as the recipe calls for, and the swiss cheese I had in my house seemed to have gone past its expiration date.

But after coming up with a mix of cheeses that I did have in the fridge - 4 cheese mexican blend, american cheese, and keeping with the reduced fat cheddar - this turned out FANTASTIC. I was so happy with the results as it was my first quiche ever. So if I'm ever craving a quiche again, this will definitely be my go-to recipe!

Crustless Ham, Cheese and Spinach Quiche

3/4 cup cubed ham
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup shredded mexican cheese blend, separated in 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup
1/4 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese
1 slice of american cheese chopped up
3/4 cup fat-free cottage cheese
1/2 cup evaporated fat-free milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup baby spinach leaves


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add ham, onion and pepper to pan and saute 4 minutes until ham is lightly browned.
3. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1/4 cup mexican blend cheese in pie plate. Top with ham mixture.
4. In a large mixing bowl, gently whisk together the eggs, remaining cheeses, cottage cheese, and evaporated milk.
5. In a small bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Add flour to egg mixture and gently stir in.
6. Add spinach to egg mixture and gently mix in.
7. Pour the egg mixture over ham mixture in pie plate.
8. Bake for about 45 minutes until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.