Thursday, July 28, 2011

Blue Cheese Buffalo Chicken Burger



Makes - 4 Burgers

NUTRITION FACTS
Calories: 350
Fat: 15.4g
Cholesterol: 116mg
Sodium:  1034.9 mg
Carbs:  24.8g
Fiber:  5.6g
Sugars:  3.7g
Protein:  31.5g











INGREDIENTS:

1 lb. all natural ground chicken breast (I used Purdue Fit and Easy)
1/4 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce (I  put that $@#& on everything!) LOL
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 Tbl. canola oil
4 Light Whole Wheat Buns (I used Healthy Life brand)
4 oz. Blue Cheese (I used Buttermilk Blue brand)
8 oz. Light Sour Cream (I'm a Daisy gal)
2 large celery stalks, chopped
1 cup lettuce, chopped
salt & pepper to taste (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl combine blue cheese, sour cream, celery and salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl combine ground chicken, hot sauce, green onions and dash of pepper.  Form mixture into four equal sized patties.  Heat a non-stick skillet to med-high heat.  When the skillet is ready, place the oil in the skillet and cook the patties approximately 7-8 minutes on each side or until the internal temperature reached 165 degrees.

When the burgers are cooked through; place on the bottom half of a bun, top with 1/4 of the blue cheese mixture, 1/4 cup of chopped lettuce, and the other half of the bun.  Enjoy!

*PLEASE NOTE* Nutrition Facts are approximate.  They are calculated using www.LoseIt.com, therefore they may not be 100% accurate and will vary depending on the brand of certain items.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

OKRA anyone?

First, let me say that it's been soooooo long since I've blogged that I'm surprised I remembered my password.

BUT I did...and here I am!  Blogging about......OKRA!  Snotty ol' okra. ☺

So, the Google search was on when I knew we were getting 1 lb. of okra in our produce basket last week.  The only way I've ever ate okra was in a deep fried form...it is good...but my first thought was how to TRY and make this somewhat healthy?  My second thought was, isn't this stuff really slimy on the inside?  So, I typed: How to not keep okra from being slimy AND healthy okra recipes.  Nothing.  Well, I shouldn't say nothing...I guess I did find some non-snotty tips and a few lame recipes, but nothing that really jumped out at me.  So, I did what most home cooks do and went to All Recipes (that is what we all do, right?) in search for some other ways to prepare it.  Looking for something NOT FRIED and NOT GUMBO.  Nothing personal against the Gumbo, but it's like 105 degrees in our neck of the woods and I eat enough soups, stews, chowders and gumbos during the winter months to kill a horse.  So NO Gumbo, please!

Unfortunately, my search there didn't come up with a whole lot either, but here are a few recipes that jumped out to me: 

GRILLED OKRA - Grilled?  Healthy? Yes! So, I tried it.  Again...100 degree weather and the grill are not friends either so I decided to broil them instead.  Easy! 3 ingredients:  Okra, butter (or oil), cajun seasoning.  The recipe called for entirely too much butter and enough seasoning to burn my tongue off so I just did my own thing.  Here is what I did:

I put 1/2 lb. of the okra in a plastic bag, drizzled 1T canola oil and sprinkled 1T Cajun seasoning in the bag.  Shake. Shake. Shake.  Placed on a baking sheet and broiled for about 5-7 minutes on each side.  The okra should have a nice black char on the outside of them.  After letting them cool, I tried them.  The verdict?  They were delicious!  The larger pods should have cooked just a little bit longer, because the bigger ones still had some sliminess on the insides of them, but overall I would for sure make these again.  Maybe next time I'll actually grill them and hope for just a little more char broiled crunch!!!  Sorry...no pictures...I started eating them and before I knew it they were gone!

NEXT UP....

OKRA PATTIES - Yes, these are still basically fried, but not DEEP fried....so I thought I would give them a try.  After grilling the first 1/2 lb, I only had 1/2 lb left, so I just cut the recipe in half.  Here are a few other changes I made:  I only used 1/4 cup of oil for a shallow fry (the recipe called for 3 cups...GEEZ!!!), I also used buttermilk in place of the water, and added a sprinkle of garlic powder....it just seemed like the right thing to do.  Anyway....they were just....okay???  They were really missing that crunch factor I was hoping for.  The flavor was very good though.  The onion and the okra balanced each other nicely, but the texture was it's downfall.  It more like a cake, still moist on the inside and kind of had some of the slimy snot thing going on, but nothing too terrible.  Probably won't make these again....I'm thinking the next time I go the fried route I'm gonna try this recipe: OKRA FRITTERS

So far, I've got to say.....my favorite way to eat okra was RAW.  Good ol' non-snotty FRESH okra!  The most healthy version of all....who knew???  So, if it happens to be summer and you are having people over....don't forget the okra on your veggie tray.  In it's raw form there is no slime.  It has a great flavor, perfect crunch and great for dipping.  Hmmm...I wouldn't mind some right now to dip in my favorite dip of all time.....some Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.  Chow!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Gold Medal

I love pasta! Who doesn't? For my birthday which was February 6th my mom and dad got me a pasta maker...that I've never used!?!!??!?? I know...ridiculous! But last week on my day off I was feeling adventurous. And I also felt like if I'm really going to get back into cooking all the time the way to do it was to get back to the basics and challenge myself. So I got on youtube and found a how to video. And then spent the rest of my afternoon getting back to the basics of what we all love and tackling my cooking "gold medal" The result was homemade pasta and homemade sauce.

Typically my posts include recipes and how to's, but I thought the best thing to do would be to include the video I watched... Pasta How To Video Maybe one day eventually I will have mastered the art of homemade pasta and will then post a recipe of my own, but until then you're all getting a youtube video too. :)

And I'll also put up the pics I took!












It turned out amazingly delicious! And was a lot easier to make than I thought it would be. (Just time consuming.) So, if you don't own a pasta maker I suggest you go out and buy one! 

Lots of Love,
  Jess

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Go To Appetizer

Yes, I realize I haven't posted in 100 years. It's because I haven't cooked anything in 100 years. My only excuse which is a dumb one is that I've been dieting like crazy and the food that is fun and delicious for me to make is not so healthy... But I need to get back to cooking and back to blogging cause it's what I love... On that note:

If you are anything like me you can't go to a party and not bring something. I always feel like it's my duty to at least bring a bottle of my favorite wine. But typically I like to bring an appetizer or dessert. So this is my go to appetizer that's so easy to make and that everyone always loves.

Mexican Pinwheels
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 (8 oz.) container sour cream
1 (4 oz.) can black olives, chopped
1 (4 oz.) can green chilies, chopped
1/2 c. green onions, chopped
1 c. Cheddar or Colby cheese, shredded
Soft tortillas (for burritos or tacos)

Start by mixing all ingredients together. Minus the tortilla's of course. Mix, mix, and mix some more because you want all the good stuff to be really mixed together. (Side note: I know the recipe says 1 cup cheddar cheese...my confession for you today is that I usually just use the whole bag! There can never be too much cheese!)

Once it's all mixed together spread the mixture on the tortilla's, roll them up, and put in fridge to sit at least a couple hours. I usually do overnight. When you are ready, just cut them into slices and serve. (Another Side Note: The best thing about these is that while cutting them up you get to eat all the end pieces because you can't serve them...they aren't pretty enough.)
Enjoy!


I'm thinking in the next couple weeks I'm going to try some other variations of the pinwheel: smoked salmon and dill, roast beef and horseradish, turkey and ranch... So I'll be posting those too!

It's good to be back!!!
Much Love,
Jess

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

I've been on a cooking hiatus recently... I've been eating out way too much and if I've learned anything from my hiatus it's that I truly do love home cooked food more than I love anything from a restaurant. Especially anything from a chain restaurant. So I need to get back into my home cooking routine.

On that note, I ate tuna and grapes for dinner which means there isn't anything exciting to post because I'm pretty sure no one wants to see pics of my canned tuna. So in honor of the rainy day we had I'm going to post my favorite comfort food recipe...mashed potatoes! And the best thing about these mashed potatoes is that you can make them the day before you need to serve them. And the other best thing, I've never met anyone who hasn't loved them!

Before the recipe, one quick note... This is comfort food at it's finest which means it has a lot of not good for you stuff in it. So instead of feeling guilty, save these for a holiday or a rainy day and enjoy!!! I'm telling you, these creamy mashed potatoes are guaranteed to make your heart happy!

Ingredients:


5 pounds Russet Or Yukon Gold Potatoes
¾ cups Butter
1 package (8 Oz.) Cream Cheese, Softened
½ cups (to 3/4 Cups) Half-and-Half
½ teaspoons (to 1 Teaspoon) Lawry's Seasoned Salt
½ teaspoons (to 1 Teaspoon) Black Pepper


Directions: 
Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. When they’re cooked through, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart. 
Drain the potatoes in a large colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in all the other ingredients. 
Turn off the stove and add 1 ½ sticks of butter, an 8-ounce package of cream cheese and about ½ cup of half-and-half. Mash, mash, and mash some more! Next, add about ½ teaspoon of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and ½ a teaspoon of black pepper. (If you're feeling really crazy add in some cheese too! Like sharp cheddar, parmesan, etc. Cheese makes anything better!) 
Stir well and place in a medium-sized baking dish. Throw a few pats of butter over the top of the potatoes and place them in a 350-degree oven and heat until butter is melted and potatoes are warmed through. 
Note: When making this dish a day or two in advance, take it out of the fridge about 2 to 3 hours before serving time. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until warmed through.





You're going to LOVE these!!! Try them out on your next family get together or just because you had a crabby day. 

Much Love,
  Jess

Saturday, May 14, 2011

RECIPE REVIEW ~ Jalapeno Pop'ems ♥♥♥♥♥

REVIEW

Bacon-Apple-Jalapeno Pop'ems* 

Recipe courtesy of Aarti Sequeria from Food Network.

   ♥♥♥♥♥ - 5 of out 5 hearts for me!!!  

These were wonderful.

The only substitution I made was that I used Oscar Meyer Lower Sodium Turkey bacon and I did have to cook them for an additional 10 minutes to get the bacon a little more crisp.  These were absolutely delicious!!!  I will for sure be making these again!  The ingredients are simple, inexpensive and as a member of Weight Watchers® these are a great appetizer for my calorie budget.  I'm not gonna lie - I ate 10 of these suckers as my dinner tonight, and it was only 7 WW points!!!  What a bargain!

 

*Recipe below has been copied and pasted from Food Network.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (8-ounce) package light cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 large granny smith apple, cored and minced
  • 3 large scallions, roots sliced off, green and white parts minced finely
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 20 jalapenos
  • 20 strips thin-sliced bacon, chopped in half
  • Special equipment: 40 toothpicks

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment.

In a large bowl, stir and break down the cream cheese until smooth. Add the apples and scallions, plus as much salt and freshly ground black pepper as you like.


Don a pair of plastic gloves so you don't burn your fingers or your eyes like I did. Slice each jalapeno in half lengthwise, and then either slice out the membranes or use a measuring spoon to scoop them out. Discard the seeds.


Either using a teaspoon or a small icing spatula, fill each jalapeno half with the cream cheese mixture; fill until just over the rim of the jalapeno. Wrap each pepper with a bacon half and secure with a toothpick. Line up the pop 'ems on the prepared baking sheet and pop into the oven until bacon has browned on the bottom, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes (which will be as long as you can resist them). Enjoy with a cold beer! Aaah!

I ♥ BERRIES

It's that time of year....berry time!!!  Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries...any type of berries...I love them all. ♥

Here are two recipes passed onto me by two of my fellow produce co-opers and friends,  Jill Smith and Erin Foster.  After you make these super easy and delicious berry recipes you just may not ever buy syrup or salad dressing again.  :)

JILL'S BERRY SYRUP  Makes 1 cup of syrup

6 oz. blackberries (or whatever berry you like)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar (or 1/4 cup agave nectar)

   
In a saucepan combine ingredients.  Smash blackberries with a fork and bring to a boil.  Reduce to medium heat and cook for about 8-10 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool for about 5 minutes.

I'm not a fan of the seeds in my syrup so I like to strain it.
Serve warm over pancakes!!!  Heavenly!!!

ERIN'S STRAWBERRY WHITE BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE
Makes approximately 4 cups (When I made it I cut the recipe in half, but I bet it would freeze just fine)

1 quart strawberries
1 3/4 cups white balsamic vinegar
2 T fresh garlic, minced
3 T sugar or sugar substitute (I used agave nectar)
2 T poppy seeds (optional)

Blend all ingredients in a blender (I use my Magic Bullet) and store in the refrigerator.  Serve over fresh baby spinach, with chopped apples, pecans and feta cheese. 

Apple, Onion & Brie Panini

Makes 4 sandwiches  (10 WW points each)

INGREDIENTS


1 tsp. olive oil
2 - large granny smith apples (quartered, cored and sliced)
1/2 large sweet onion (sliced)
1 sprig rosemary
12 oz. beer (any beer will work, I used a pumpkin spice ale - you can also substitute with broth)
6 oz. brie cheese
8 sliced 100% Whole Wheat Bread

DIRECTIONS

Place oil in a large skillet set to medium-high heat.  Saute' onions and apples for approximately 5 minutes.  Add beer and rosemary spring; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until onions and apples have cooked down and there is no liquid left, approximately 35-40 minutes.  Be sure to stir occasionally.

When it first starts to boil.....
....after about 35 - 40 minutes of simmering.



















When the apples and onions have finished cooking; remove rosemary sprig and set aside.  Top four slices of bread each with 1 & 1/2 ounces of brie.  Then top with 1/4 cup of the apple mixture and then the remaining slices of bread.  When your panini press preheated, lightly spray with olive oil and grill your sandwiches until the cheese starts to melt.  Approximately 3-4 minutes.

One of my favorite breads for a panini is the Food For Life - Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted grain bread.  Locally you can find it at Dierbergs in the organic refrigerated section.  There are several different types, but I really like the Sesame.

Before they turn into sweet melty goodness.  :)


I think they are done!!!!   


Delish!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Make your own....Fat Free Potato Chips in under 8 minutes!!!

I thought that may catch your attention!!! 


You probably have everything you need right now to make your own healthy potato chips at home and you didn't even know it.  All you need is a potato, knife, and a microwave.  Optional items to make it just a tad easier and a bit tastier would be parchment paper and seasoning of your choice. 

STEP #1 - Slice your potato:   The thickness is going to make a difference on how long it takes to cook them properly, but the most important thing is to try and get them cut at the same thickness.  I like mine cut to about 1/8th of an inch or so.

If you have a mandolin it is a great tool to use for this.  I do have one, but honestly it's kind of a pain in the rear to get out and use.  So, if I'm only making enough for one meal or a snack, I just use a knife.  If I'm going to make a big batch I go ahead and get out my mandolin. 

STEP #2 - Microwave:  Place the slices in a single layer onto parchment paper, season according to your taste and place into your microwave.  Zap'em for about 6 minutes.  Check for crispness.  They will need to be browned in order to get crisp.  You may need a rotate a few from the middle to the outer edge so they evenly cook.  If they aren't quite done pop'em in for another minute or two.  It's important to watch them carefully at this point...you want dark brown...not black.

So, be sure to watch them carefully, especially the first few times you make them.  Once you get to know your microwave and how long it takes...it will be a breeze!



Now go.....CRUNCH AWAY.....GUILT FREE!!!!




Our picnic tonight was: Grilled Turkey Burgers, Homemade Chips & Fruit Salad
(Oh and juice for the boys and a brewsky for mom & dad)
Potatoes, Fruit Salad, Tomatoes, Lettuce & Homemade Pickles (made from fancy cucumbers) all courtesy of the Community Helpings Coop!!!  




To find out if Community Helpings Co-op has a delivery near you, please visit www.communityhelpingscoop.com.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My Uncle Bob's Favorite Green Beans

I made these green beans for the first time on Christmas Eve and they were a HUGE hit! My Uncle Bob told me no less that 7 times that they were the best green beans he'd ever had. They are super easy, super delicious, and super healthy! Seriously, try them...

Also, they were the first recipe I've ever used a shallot in! If you've never cooked with a shallot before it's a cross between an onion and garlic. It's in a bulb like garlic, but the taste and smell is more similar to an onion. But the bonus of shallots is that they don't make you cry while cutting them up and they don't give you bad breath. Bonus!

Ingredients:


  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the cooking water
  • 1 pound fresh green beans
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Directions

Bring a medium pot of cold water to a boil over high heat and salt it generously. Trim the stem end off the green beans. Peel and finelychop the shallot.
Drop the green beans into the boiling water and cook, uncovered, until crisp tender, about 4 minutes. Drain in a colander set in the sink and rinse with very cold water until cool. Drain well and pat dry with paper towels. (The vegetables can be prepared up to this point, up to 4 hours ahead.)
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add theshallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is just golden, about 2 minutes. Add the green beans, increase the heat to high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are heated through, about 4 minutes. Season with the 1/2 teaspoon salt and some pepper and serve immediately.



Best side dish ever! Enjoy!
Much Love,
Jess

Monday, April 25, 2011

Roasted Garlic

I'm back and feeling soooo much better. It turns out that I had a severe sinus infection and it kicked my butt for about a week and a half. But after the old faithful Z-Pack and lots and lots of sleep I'm back in the kitchen!

I made a fabulous meal that I was super excited about for Easter Sunday! But since that blog would be way too long I decided to break each dish from the meal into a separate blog.

I started with roasted garlic to put on rustic bread. And it turned out beautifully. It's a super easy recipe to make and it ups the caliber of just plain old bread or store bought garlic bread.

Roasted Garlic:
*Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
*Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Using a knife, cut off 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of the top of cloves, exposing the individual cloves of garlic.
This is what it should look like before roasting.
*Place the garlic heads in a baking pan; muffin pans work well for this purpose. Drizzle a couple teaspoons of olive oil over each head, using your fingers to make sure the garlic head is well coated. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400°F for 30-35 minutes, or until the cloves feel soft when pressed.
*Allow the garlic to cool enough so you can touch it without burning yourself. Use a small small knife cut the skin slightly around each clove. Use a cocktail fork or your fingers to pull or squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins.
*Eat as is or mash with a fork and use for cooking. Can be spread over warm French bread, mixed with sour cream for a topping for baked potatoes, or mixed in with Parmesan and pasta.


This is the end result! Delicious!!!
 This is definitely my new favorite and easiest recipe! I promise once you've tried it you won't ever go back to frozen garlic bread again! :)

Much Love and Deliciously Bad Breath,
-Jess