The Past Few Weeks

The past few weeks have been busy to say the least. I haven’t been cooking much, we’ve been eating corndogs from the freezer, eating out, and the occasional home cooked goodness.

Here are a couple of things I’ve made in the past few weeks.

Image Gluten Free Crock-Pot Chicken and Dumplings

 

Image Home-made strawberry shortcake with whole wheat biscuits and home-made whipped cream

 

 

Image Healthier Eggplant Parmesan – not swimming in sauce, and a touch spicy

Sushi and Sandwiches

DSC_0003This post should have been done a couple days ago, but what can I say, life got in the way a little bit. Last week, we made sushi. And when I say “we,” I do mean WE! My hunny helped – he even made two rolls by himself! I was very proud! This time around for sushi, we got tuna and crabmeat, and we made a spicy crab with avocado and a cucumber tuna, and then mixed the two together. With some edamame, we were pretty much at our limit with three rolls. It was delicious.

DSC_0010Two days later, I made a delicious seared ahi sandwich. The idea came from when I worked at a restaurant in Scottsdale, and they made a very similar sandwich as one of the seasonal menu offerings. It is addictively good, and when I have fresh tuna on hand, I’d be silly NOT to try to make it! It’s creamy and delicious, with just a little kick and will leave you wanting to lick your plate. What I really like about this, is that I could probably make this a completely local meal. Oh, and on the side, I made the PRETTIEST oven baked fries that were so good.

DSC_0008I want to take a second and rave about a little spice shop that I stumbled upon in Key West, Florida. They are called The Spice and Tea Exchange, and they have a whole host of different spices and spice blends, as well as a whole wall of different kinds of salts and teas. I was in hog heaven in this store. I bought a “Pirate’s Bite” blend from them for my buddy who loves spicy food and he adores it, even if it does make him sweat. The spice I used on my fries is a garlic blend from these folks, and I think they are whole-heartedly deserving of some likes on Facebook – they even take orders online. Check them out!

Seared Ahi and Brie Sandwiches

Ingredients

Tuna filets – one per two people, cut in half lengthwise (through the thick portion to create two thin filets)

Really good quality bread, ciabatta is delicious for this, two slices per sandwich about the same size as your filets

1 tart green apple or a pear, cored and thinly sliced

Brie cheese, thinly sliced (make sure to not use the end with the wrapping on it, it doesn’t taste as good)

Fig jam (this is key to balance the flavors!)

A tangy, spicy aioli (For ours, we used mayo, sherry vinegar, apple cider vinegar, whole grain mustard, hot sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper – all mixed together until it tasted good. A little heavy on the mustard and hot sauce to balance the sweetness of the fig jam)

Instructions – this is so easy!

Make your aioli, to your tastes. It should be a little heavier on the mayo, mustard and hot sauce. You’re going for tangy with a spicy kick.

Salt and pepper both sides of your tuna. Preheat a pan on medium high heat, you want to create that delicious sear and not overcook your tuna. While the pan is preheating, toast your bread, just a little bit. You’re going to toast it again at the end.

Once your bread is toasted, coat one piece with a thin layer of the jam, and the other piece with a thin layer of aioli. Lay a couple slices of cheese in a single layer on the jam side, and the apple or pear on the aioli side.

Sear your tuna. This will only take less than a minute on each side. You don’t want it cooked all the way through, only browned a little bit up the edges. The center will be pink (see the pictures). Once it’s done, put it on your sandwiches and close them up.

Now the fun part. Take your closed sandwiches and put them in the pan, for just a couple seconds, starting with the cheese side and then flip. The goal is to melt the brie just a little and toast up the bread some more. Use your best judgement here.

Serve with your favorite oven baked fries. Sit. Eat. Enjoy.

Pizza, Pizza!

Well, today is my five-year anniversary with this blog! Go figure, that’s kind of awesome. So much can happen in five years. We’re making sushi for dinner tonight, so we can call that an anniversary dinner. :)

A couple nights ago, we made home made pizza, and since Miss Kelly is going gluten free, we actually made three pizzas! We had one gluten free crust, one regular crust, and one zucchini crust. That last one was another Pinterest find, something I had been wanting to try. It wasn’t terrible, but it’s a little tricky. It doesn’t hold the same amount of weight as a regular pizza crust – you’d have to get it really, really dry before it’s baked. I still don’t know that it’s got enough holding it together. It was good though! The gluten free crust was really good too – I almost liked it more than the regular crust. It had a completely different texture and flavor. Our veggie crust and gluten free crust were both veggie pizzas, while the regular crust was pepperoni for my hunny. I also added some olives and some italian seasoning, and needless to say, there were very few leftovers.

Not so much to tell – but pretty pictures – can you tell which crust is which?

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Farmer’s Market Finds

DSC_0353This weekend we went to the Clarksville Downtown Market, and got to experience a completely different type of farmer’s market than what we had experienced before. This one was smaller, calmer and much more friendly. There were fewer merchants, but they were all different, rather than a monopoly on veggies like we tend to see in Nashville. There were also a lot more artisans of handcrafted goods, which was very cool.

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We got a huge bushel of apples that I turned into apple butter and apple pie apple sauce. We also got some heirloom carrots and tomatoes, beautiful, fat zucchini, a huge basket of green beans and a wonderfully colored acorn squash.

DSC_0363I used some of the veggies in a stir fry as a complement to some frozen veggies and leftover rotisserie chicken. I then created a cheesy pasta primavera with whole wheat pasta. There were 8 different types of vegetables that were lightly steamed and delicious and a lighter mozzarella sauce that blended everything together. Recipe below!

By the way, I’m in love with my new camera, and it has a “food” setting on it that helps to bring out some of the beautiful colors. Hence the silly amount of pictures today!

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Pasta Primavera with Market Veggies

Market fresh vegetables, cleaned and chopped to approximately the same size. I used: 1 large zucchini, 1 eggplant, 4 heirloom carrots, a handful of cherry tomatoes, 3 sweet peppers, a head of broccoli, a handful of green beans

3 cloves of garlic, diced

olive oil

2 tbsp white wine of your choice

whole wheat linguine, about a quarter to half of a box

Fresh basil, 1 large bunch, julienned

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

Approx 1/4 cup fresh parmesan or three cheese blend

1/4 – 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

approx 1/2 cup milk (you can substitute soy or almond milk – I did!)

Approx 2 tbsp each: ground sage, ground thyme, dried dill, black pepper

Approx 1 tbsp each: paprika, ground oregano

Approx 1/2 tbsp dried cardamom

Salt to taste

  • Prepare all the veggies, cleaning and chopping. Put all but the garlic in a large bowl. Warm a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil – once around the pan. Then add in the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  • While the pan is warming and the garlic cooking, prepare your pasta pot with water and set to boil. Once  boiling, add in a handful of sea salt and olive oil to add additional flavor to the pasta itself. Then add in the pasta and cook until al dente.
  • Once the garlic is fragrant, dump the bowl of veggies into the pan and toss well. Add another round of olive oil and continue to toss to coat. Top with sage, thyme, dill, and oregano, as well as 1 tbsp black pepper and a pinch of salt. Toss well to coat and cover pan, cooking on medium for 2-3 minutes. After this time, add in the wine, and stir. Then re-cover, and let cook on medium low heat while pasta cooks, stirring occasionally.
  • To make the sauce, first melt the butter in a pot. Once melted, add in the flour, stirring vigorously. Once that creates a paste, add in about 1/2 the milk, continuing to stir. Add in the parmesan and the mozzarella, continuing to stir. Add the rest of the milk, the paprika, 1 tbsp of black pepper and the cardamom. The sauce should be creamy as it melts, and if needed, add a little more milk to increase the creaminess. Continue to stir to evenly incorporate the heat and melt the cheese, as well as preventing burnt cheese on the bottom.
  • At this point, the pasta should be done. Taste test for texture. Drain, and return to the pot. Add 3/4 of the basil to the veggies and stir, cooking just long enough to wilt. Once wilted, add to the pasta, top with the cheese sauce and toss well to coat. Serve with fresh basil on top.

Crockpot Chicken Taco Bake

crockpot-chicken-taco

I actually made this wonderfulness a couple nights ago, but I’ve been eating it through the week. It’s so easy and so yummy! I got the chance to share it with two of my best friends last night and they agreed! James even tried to lick the bowl! A healthy, zesty combination of chicken, black beans and corn, this is a set it and forget it easy weeknight crowd-pleaser. As you can see here, it didn’t need a whole lot to be filling.

Of course, I did get it from Pinterest (I’ve been trying to make stuff I’ve pinned, can you tell?), so I have to give some credit! So I got the recipe from a blog called Budget Bytes, and it’s so easy! Make some rice, top with avocado and cheese and maybe even some sour cream. Yum.

According to the blog, it’s also very tasty with tortillas or taco shells instead of the rice.

Want to see some more recipes I’ve pinned? Follow me on Pinterest.

Chicken Taco Bake

  • 1.5 lbs chicken breasts – I used a combo of breasts and thighs because I like the taste of the dark meat
  • 1 16 oz jar of salsa – Walmart brand Zesty Cilantro is delicious! I’m betting that the black bean and corn or mango salsa would be really good here too.
  • 1 16 oz can of black beans, drained
  • 1/2 lb frozen corn
  • 1 tbsp each chili powder, cumin, minced garlic
  • 1 tsp each dried oregano, cayenne and salt
  • (If you don’t have these spices, use a packet of taco mix instead)
  • to taste, cracked pepper
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar
  • cilantro for garnish (optional)
  • Avocado, chopped, for garnish (optional)

Throw everything but the cilantro, avocado and cheese in the crockpot, along with a cup of water. Mix it together, make sure the chicken is covered with the sauce. Turn on low for 8 hours. Or high for 4, low for 2 if you have a little less time.

At about hour 7.5, go ahead and make some white rice, either in a rice cooker or on the stove. When it’s ready, shred the chicken with two forks, and serve over rice, topped with cheese, avocado and cilantro.

Sit. Eat. Enjoy. :)

Mad Scientist at Work…

Japanese BeefEveryone has that friend – the one who might be just a little bit crazy? Well for me, that friend is James. And he’s commonly referred to as the Mad Scientist of the group, for his random thoughts that he puts into action. This time around, he was sent a photo from a friend of his of some delicious looking concoction, and he said, let’s make that! Well, the deliciousness you see above is what the result was! At the top, is a mix of baby bell peppers, onions and garlic with spice and a little bit of apple cider vinegar. The middle is a chuck roast, cut thin, seared and broiled after being marinated with spices, garlic, red wine and a spicy pepper oil. A simple coleslaw is at the bottom and at the bottom on the right is a shitake onion blend that was tangy and delicious. I would offer the recipe, but to be honest – I was more of a sous chef than having anything to do with the actual preparation. In the end – this didn’t really look like the dish that was the inspiration, but it was still ridiculously delicious! 

On a side note, have you ever seen those infomercials where they so very much over react that you just look at them and shake your head in disbelief? I saw one of those today, for this new bag that “bakes” potatoes in your microwave in just four minutes! Because 45 minutes in the oven is just too much. This is not the first mini infomercial that I’ve seen that drove me nuts. What are your thoughts?

 

Where I’ve Been

I finally logged back in to this blog, and noticed it’s been a good hot minute since I’ve been here! My apologies, and I hope I still have some readers when this is said and done. A lot has happened since sushi night in February. It was an attempt to get back to what I consider ‘my reality’, but apparently, it was also a failure. My reality came home in early August, and now things are right in my world.

**(Break here to send some good vibes out to our troops still overseas)**

So now that we’re finally settling back down in to our routine, and I’m back to cooking more often than not, I’m hoping to churn out some fun surprises to share. I even just picked up a middle eastern cuisine cookbook that looks like a great adventure. But then again, I’m also now taking graphic design classes online, and I’m also preparing to move. You know, it’s a good thing that cooking and art can follow this girl anywhere, because I’d be pretty hard pressed to keep myself busy otherwise. But passion is passion, and I do it because I love it. I’ve also taken up a little photography on the side, because it’s something that I love and I consider it an art form…even if I’m not too good at it. A friend of mine did give me the opportunity to photograph her second wedding, though, and that was fantastic. It made me so happy to be a part of her big day.

Now, on to the food! That’s why you’re here, right?

tomato-goat-cheese-tart

Yesterday, after a dinner of corndogs, I got a wild hair to make something that I had been thinking about and talking about for a solid two weeks. A mascarpone/goat cheese and tomato tart. It was something that I saw on Pinterest, and it looked oh so scrumptious. The idea was to get my tomatoes and cheese from the farmer’s market in Nashville, and then it would be local too. Well. Procrastination got the best of me. So I had to get some new tomatoes. But the goat cheese from the Amish stand at the market was still good to go!

Quad-Berry-Tart

While picking up some bits and pieces from the store, like mascarpone, I got to thinking and I saw some delicious looking berries on sale. Hmm, mascarpone and berries, in a crust, with mint? Yes please! Inspiration, my friends, strikes at the oddest of times. So then, I turned out this pretty tart of berries. And let me just say… a slice of each for lunch and dessert is beyond delectable and it gave me a very happy tummy.

Now, I must tell you – I got the recipe for the crust from Pinterest, and it was a “guaranteed no fail crust” recipe that I was slightly skeptical about. Well, I’m not a baker (as some of you know), and I didn’t screw it up. I’m a believer now! Here’s the recipe from a blog called Dana Made It. And then, I slightly modified the recipe for the Tomato and Cheese Tart, because I used a mixture of the goat cheese and mascarpone with my own crust recipe. This one came from The Endless Meal. When eating this one on day two or whenever, make sure it’s a little warm. It has the consistency of a really good lasagna and small piece is plenty for a light lunch.

To make the fruit tart, I used the same crust recipe, which I cut in half by the way because I only needed two crusts, not four, and then I sliced up my berries. Well, let’s get real, my friend Kelly cleaned and sliced up my berries because she wanted to help. The mascarpone (about 3/4 of a small container) was mixed with 2 tbsp of vanilla greek yogurt, a dash or two of cinnamon, half a lemon’s juice and very finely diced fresh mint. I blind baked the crust until it was done, filled it with the cream and topped it with the berries. This is a very fresh dessert, and tastes great straight out of the fridge. I had also found a recipe for a limoncello cream tart that I think that cream would taste really good with this topping.

So now that I’ve spilled my world to you, I hope you come back! I promise to be better about my posting. Even if it’s not specifically food related!