Archive | May 2012

Mediterranean Pasta Salad & Mini Strawberry Pies

Both of these recipes are good for entertaining, and they were both tasty.  The little strawberry pies were great, and the blog that I got it from explained how to do them perfectly.  They were so cute yet soo easy!  I have to say I’m pretty excited that the next time I post it will be June!  You know what that means? Strawberry picking month!  Have a great weekend and thanks for reading. :)

Mediterranean Pasta Salad- slightly adapted from Food Network

Serves: 4-6

Kosher salt
1 pound tricolor pasta, such as bow tie or fusilli
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 to 3 teaspoons dijon mustard
Freshly ground pepper
2/3 to 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 large pickled pepperoncini peppers, diced (optional – I only used 1 small one because it was a little too spicy for my taste)
5 tablespoons halved black olives
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1 1/2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 1/2 tablespoons grated romano cheese

Instructions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente; drain, then rinse with cold water to cool (I made the pasta the night before and chilled overnight in the refrigerator).
  2. Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette: Whisk the vinegar, mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in enough of the oil to make a smooth dressing; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Combine the sun-dried tomatoes, basil, onion, pepperoncini, olives and oregano in a bowl. Add the cooked pasta, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add the vinaigrette  (Note: I didn’t use all of the dressing.  Add it slowly until the pasta is coated to your preference) and both cheeses and toss. Chill until ready to serve.

Mini Strawberry Pies

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Buffalo Half Marathon

On Thursday I’m going to have two recipes for you, promise!  But for today’s post I’m just going to do a quick recap of the half marathon I ran yesterday.  My knees feel as though someone took a sledge hammer to them so standing up to cook in the kitchen is not an option!

So, since this is a food blog, here was the night before the race meal…

As you can see, I definitely used this meal as an excuse to carb-load!  Although, it was full of nutrients and fiber too in addition to the carb’s.  Needless to say, I went to bed feeling very full and happy.  5 AM came before I knew it, and this was breakfast…

The muffin is my peanut butter-banana muffins, I baked up a batch last night because they are by far my favorite muffins and I knew they’d be good fuel.  Wondering what to have before a workout?  When in doubt, always a banana.  They contain carbohydrate and the electrolytes that you lose during a strenuous workout (ie. potassium).

As soon as the gun went off at 7 AM, I felt good.  I thankfully had no nausea or serious pain (besides my ankle, later in the race).  My personal goal was 2:05, my running buddy’s/hunnie’s was 2:00 so he was really pushing the pace with me.  At some points, I wanted to reach over and smack him for having such long legs, at most points, I loved that he was challenging me.  We ended up crossing the finish line with a time of 2:01:25.  Dan could have totally done it under 2:00 but he stayed with me despite telling him (more then once) to stop talking to me or I would vomit on him.  All in all, I know that I pushed my body as physically as hard as I could, and under 2 hours is a lifetime goal of mine, so there’s still time for that! :)

Do you have any memorable race stories??

Easy Ravioli Bake

This recipe has so much flavor, I really enjoy it.  You can use any type of ravioli that you want (chicken, cheese, spinach, etc.).  I used a “florentine” ravioli from Wegmans which is a combination of ricotta cheese, spinach and garlic.  It’s nice because it has great flavor and it cuts the saturated fat down a little since there is more then just cheese inside.  To make this recipe healthier, you can swap out the suggested mozzarella cheese topping and instead sprinkle with grated parmesan like I did.  I hope you like it!

Easy Ravioli Bake– very slightly adapted from Cooking Light

Serves: 4

2 (9 oz) packages refrigerated or frozen ravioli’s of your choice

Cooking Spray

1 cup white onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

4 garlic cloves, minced

6 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 cup dry white wine (or water if not on hand)

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

1/8 tsp. black pepper

4 (14.5-oz) cans no salt added diced tomatoes (I only used 3 cans due to the size of my pan and it turned out to be plenty)

1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded part skim mozzarella cheese Sprinkle of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Instructions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.  Drain well.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  3. Heat a large non-stick pan or dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray (I added a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil).  Add onion, bell pepper, oregano, and garlic.  Saute 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Add tomato paste and next 6 ingredients, stirring well to combine, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat.  Add pasta to tomato mixture, tossing well to combine.  Spoon pasta mixture into a 13×9 glass baking dish and sprinkle evenly with mozzarella cheese. 
  4. Bake at 400F for 25-30 minutes.  Top with a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese.

Easy Steps to a Healthier You

I’ve done a similar post to this before, but it can’t hurt to reinforce some easy things you can do to eat healthier.

First up, right after you get home from the store, chop up your fruits and veggies (if they are chop-able) and bag them.  Then, you will be able to just grab them without thinking throughout the week.  It may seem silly to think it will cause you to eat healthier, but when they’re as easy to grab as chips, you’ll grab them!

Another good investment.. an air-popper.  You can eat a heck of a lot of air-popped popcorn with no (or small amounts) or butter and salt.  If you love crunchy snacks but are watching your calories, this is a great way to go.  It also pops in no time, which is a nice perk.

Another important tip?  Pack a bagged lunch, and plan your dinners for the week.  I’ve preached this before, but planning ahead really does make all the difference in how healthy you eat.  You’ll much more consciously plan a well balanced dinner on a full stomach then an empty one at 5:30 pm.

An EASY way to sneak some more physical activity into your life is to get out and walk in any way you can.  Pretend as though escalators and elevators do not exist, and always take the stairs.  Don’t sit in a drive through line, please.  I find nothing more aggravating then watching 10 cars sitting in a drive through line when there are tons of spots available to just walk ten feet inside to order.  It’s absolute pure laziness, and you’re better then that!  Don’t circle the parking lot for a spot, take the one in the back!  You get the hint :)

Look out for a new recipe on Thursday!

Honey Cashew Chicken with Rice

If you get Cooking Light magazine, you probably just received this recipe in the mail so this will be nothing new to you.  If not.. what is wrong with you?! Jusstt kidding… but seriously, get a subscription.  I’ve never once been disappointed with one of their recipes, and I make them a lot.  This one was no different.  Enjoy!

Honey Cashew Chicken with Rice – very slightly adapted from Cooking Light

Serves: 4

1 cup brown rice

2 (6 oz) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubes

2 tbsp. cornstarch

1/2 tsp. salt (it won’t kill you to omit this because the soy sauce is high in salt)

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 tbsp. canola oil

1 tbsp. sesame oil

2 cups broccoli florets, chopped into bite size pieces (smaller the better so they cook faster)

1 cup frozen shelled edamame

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 Spanish onion, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1/2 c dry roasted, unsalted cashews

1 tbsp. rice vinegar

3 tbsp. honey

2 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce

1 tbsp. hot sauce (The original recipe calls for Sriracha but I didn’t have any handy)

 

Instructions:

  1. Cook the rice according to the box, omitting salt and fat.
  2. Combine chicken and next 3 ingredients in a bowl, toss to coat.
  3. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add canola and sesame oils.  Add chicken mixture, and saute for 4 minutes or until lightly browned.  Increase heat to high, add broccoli and the next 4 ingredients (through red bell pepper).  Cook 5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and chicken is done, stirring frequently.  Stir in cashews.
  4. Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stir with a wisk.  Add vinegar mixture to chicken mixture, toss to coat.  Serve over rice.

Artichoke & Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breast

This was my mom’s request for her special day, and it turned out pretty tasty.  I love that my mom enjoys a lot of flavor in cooking like I do and was willing to have us experiment with a new recipe for her Mother’s Day meal.  From how many times she said it was delicious at dinner, I’m assuming her risk paid off!

Artichoke & Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breast– slightly adapted from Guy Fieri

Serves: 3-4

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/2 cup chopped red onion

3/4 cup chopped marinated artichoke hearts

1/2 cup chopped marinated sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1/2 cup white wine, divided

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup grated Parmesan (if you have access to freshly grated- use it!)

1/2 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley leaves (we used dried)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (we used about 8-10 of the thinly sliced chicken breasts)

 

Instructions:

  1. In a saute pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil. When the oil is hot add the onions and saute until translucent. Stir in the artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes. Saute for 3 to 5 minutes, then add the salt, pepper and garlic. When the garlic begins to lightly brown, deglaze with 1/4 cup of the white wine. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the butter, allow it to melt, then toss in the Parmesan and parsley.
  2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before stuffing the chicken breast.
  3. Rinse, trim and pound out chicken breasts to about 1/4-inch thick (or buy the already thinly sliced breasts which worked perfectly). Do not over-pound as holes in the chicken will make it difficult for the chicken to retain the stuffing.
  4. Put 1/4 of the stuffing mixture at 1 end of a chicken breast. Gentle roll the chicken breast folding the ends in to help keep the stuffing from coming out during the cooking process. Secure the chicken roll with 2 toothpicks. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts and stuffing.
  5. Heat the 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil in a medium saute pan over high heat. Add the chicken breasts, with the secured side of the chicken first, to insure the roll with stay together. Brown the chicken on all sides, and deglaze with remaining white wine.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes.
  7. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and discard the toothpicks.  Drizzle with remaining pan drippings, garnish with a sprinkle of Parmesan and serve.

I hope you enjoy the recipe, and that you were able to spend the weekend with your mom or at least have a chat with her on the phone.  Here’s a quick memory for you, Mom… I love you!

Guacamole Grilled Cheese

This recipe was delicious.  I know it’s coming to you a day late (I’m blaming finals!), but it was worth the wait.  Quick and easy meal, but I’m not going to sit here and tell you it was the healthiest of meals, seeing as it is a grilled cheese.  The avocado’s do incorporate some healthy fats and tomato’s are always good for their antioxidants and cancer fighting properties.  It’s ok to have a cheesy dish once and a while, just make the other half of the plate veggies like I did.  The ingredients are totally adaptable with this one too, so add whatever amount of cheese and guacamole per sandwich that you desire, and if you use french bread, make the sandwiches whatever size you choose. Believe it or not, the below sandwiches were a lot smaller before I smashed them down in the George Foreman! Enjoy :)

Guacamole Grilled Cheese- slightly adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Serves: 2 (note: the above pictured sandwich was “one” serving- although, I could not eat it all!)

1 avocado

1/2 small onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tbsp. fresh lime juice

1/2 tsp. coarse salt

Sprinkle of pepper

2 roma tomatoes, chopped

Small amount of butter for spreading (see instructions below)

4-8 slices sharp cheddar cheese (amount to your liking)

4 slices crusty white bread of your choice (I ended up using a few ounces of french bread but you can go with a more basic, thinner, crusty white bread too)

Instructions:

  1. To make the guacamole-cut avocado in half. Remove seed. Scoop out avocado from the peel, put in a large bowl. Using a fork, mash the avocado. Add the onion, garlic, lime juice, salt and pepper. Stir until well combined. Add the chopped tomato and stir.
  2. Heat a  grill (I used a George Foreman.  If you use a more basic white bread you may want to just use a regular pan over med-high heat) to medium-high heat. Spread desired amount of guacamole on both slices of bread then top with desired amount of cheese. Lightly butter outer slices of bread and grill on one side for about 2 minutes or until golden and crispy. Flip the sandwich and grill until golden brown.