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Pinspired: Quinoa Salad with corn & scallions

Doesn’t this salad look amazing!?

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I have a horrible habit of looking at a recipe and making up my own concoction based on the picture.  Following recipes is not my forte.

I had some left over cooked quinoa in the fridge, along with some scallions and a zucchini that were nearing extinction.  My version turned out pretty well.  Here is what I used:

1 clove garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 medium zucchini, diced
2 cups cooked quinoa
salt and pepper, to taste
5-6 scallions (white and green parts), diced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 – 3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

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saute garlic, corn and zucchini in olive oil until soft and fragrant.  (about 4 minutes).  Add quinoa, salt and pepper and heat through (about 2 minutes).  Add scallions and parmesan cheese (cook for 1 minute).  Add lemon juice and serve!

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It was a quick and delicious side dish.  I served it with marinated tomatoes and a jelly donut.

No, no…that is actually a cheeseburger on a bagel thin with dill relish.  Bet I fooled ya though!

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Embarrassingly Easy Stromboli

For our bowling extravaganza on Saturday, everyone brought some sort of appetizer or dessert in lieu of going out to a big dinner.  This is my favorite way to eat…dips, munchies and pretty much anything with cheese. 

My contribution was Stromboli.  I make this for pretty much any event where I won’t be able to keep something hot or cold.  This is delicious at room temperature, although I do love the ooey, gooey, melty cheese right out of the oven. 

It’s always a crowd pleaser and I’m always asked for the recipe.  Which is embarrassing because its so simple and I generally want to look like a culinary goddess.  I guess I could make my own dough, cure my own meat and age my own cheese.  Yeah, I think that’s a dumb idea too…

I made two versions. 

Turkey, roasted pepper & cheese
One tube pizza crust
One jar roasted red peppers
1/2 lb smoked turkey
1/2 lb cheese (I prefer sharp cheddar, colby or pepper jack)

Italian
One tube pizza dough
1/2 lb mozzarella
1/2 lb provolone
1/2 lb baked ham
1/2 lb pepperoni or salami
dried oregano or Italian seasoning.

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 Preheat oven to 400.  Line a cookie sheet with foil, parchment or silpat baking mat.  It helps to coat it with non-stick spray.  Pop open pizza crust and lay it flat on sheet.  Spread it out with your fingers.  Pinch together any tears in the dough.  

Layer your meat/cheeses: 
turkey/cheese/peppers
(sprinkle about 1T oregano over dough) Ham, provolone, pepperoni, mozzerella

You don’t have to follow this order but it’s how I always do it :).  Be sure to rinse and drain the peppers and dry very well between paper towels.  If the peppers aren’t dry, it’s a hot mess.

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 Roll em up!!  Start at the end closest to you and fold the two corners in .  Tuck and roll, tuck and roll, tuck and roll until you reach the end.  Make sure you pinch all of the dough together so everything is nice and tight. Adjust the stromboli so it’s seam side down on your baking sheet and cut 3-4 small slits in the top. 

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.  Check your progress.  Rotate baking sheet as needed.  (Mine took 30 minutes in an electric oven).  It’s done when it’s golden brown on top. Remove from oven and rest for 15 minutes.

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Tell Jerry he’s not allowed to sample it until it’s cooled.  Repeat 3 times.

Slice it up and serve immediately.  Or let it cool completely before transferring to an air tight container.

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 Ooooey, Goooey and YUMMY!

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Spicy Shrimp Fried Rice

I don’t love Chinese food.  There, I said it.  When Jerry and I are going out to eat and we’re trying to decide a location, he always throws out a Chinese restaurant first.  And I immediately shoot it down.

Jerry: “You hate Chinese food!”
Jenny:  “No I don’t, I just don’t love it.”
Jerry:  “No you hate it…just admit it”
Jenny: “I don’t hate it.  There are simply WAY more things I’d rather eat other than Chinese food.  Like pizza.  Or Mexican.  Or sandwiches.  Or pasta.  Or salad.  Or chicken wings. Or pizza”

Maybe I just don’t like the way I feel after I eat it.  It’s always super salty (and I LOVE salt) and I’m hungry again 15 minutes after I eat it.

Then Jerry declared on Friday “I’m getting Chinese food this weekend and you can either come with me or you stay home and find something to eat by yourself”.

Hmmmm, ok.  “Well how about I make us a nice stir-fry at home?  And I’ll make some healthier fried rice”.  (Jerry only ever gets fried rice when we get Chinese food.  Or Thai.  ONLY fried rice.  So he really doesn’t love Chinese food either…he just loves fried rice).  He reluctantly agreed…although he looked very defeated.

So I went on my favorite healthy foods blog, Skinnytaste, and there it was…Spicy Shrimp Fried Rice. And I had all of the ingredients on hand.  Done and done.

Note:  I find it is really helpful to stock up on a bunch of Asian ingredients to keep on hand.  You drop $30 in one shopping trip, but then you always have them to whip up a quick dinner and don’t have to run to the store for one thing.  My staples are soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, asian fish sauce, thai garlic chili paste, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce and oyster sauce.

I roasted up a big batch of veggies (season with toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, salt & pepper, 425 for 15 minutes) to go with it.

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All I can say is WOW…it blew us both away.  I cooked up some brown rice earlier in the day so the whole thing came together in 20 minutes or so.  I followed the recipe pretty closely, but my sesame oil was just plain and it turned out just fine.

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I may actually like Chinese food after all.

 

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Southwestern Shrimp Salad

Friday night is Date Night in our house.  I try really hard to stick with this rule because 1) on Friday night’s I’m beat 2) I like to have some chill out time with Jerry.  90% of the time, date night is spent at home.  I make dinner, we catch up on the DVR and it’s light’s out by 9:30.  We’re old.  I’m perfectly OK with this.

This was a particularly long week and I didn’t really feel like spending a ton of time in the kitchen.  Salad is always a quick go to option.

I made my favorite cilantro lime vinaigrette:  juice of one lime, one clove of garlic, big handful of cilantro, a couple tablespoons of olive oil and salt & pepper to taste.  Whirl in the mini food processor (or magic bullet)…done and done.

I sautéed some large shrimp in my favorite hot pepper oil from Trader Joes.  2 minutes per side is all it takes!  Once the shrimpies are cooked, toss them in 1/2 the vinaigrette and set aside.

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The remaining viniagrette gets tossed in our favorite salad fixins…romaine, spinach red peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded cheddar.  Pour the shrimps (and all the yummy sauce) over the salad and dig in!

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We currently are without cable.  It’s only 3-4 months. (No HGTV, No DIY, No Food Network…ARGH!!!) and we’re making due with Netflix and Hulu streamed through our AppleTV.  Right now we’re on Season 5 of Mad Men. Ugh, that Don Draper…he is something!

And as it is STILL FREEZING in Western PA, I’m bringing the springtime indoors!  Courtesy of Costco…

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It’s shake n bake…and I helped

How’s that for a Throw Back Thursday?!?!

I probably shouldn’t be offended that Jerry loves Shake n Bake pork chops.  Because despite the fact that I’m a pretty decent cook, my pork chops are pretty lousy.  I’ve brined, marinated, baked, grilled, slow cooked, breaded & fried…and they seriously never turn out as good as old school Shake n Bake chops.  So if he wants pork chops, he’s getting SnB from now on!

My fragile culinary ego was determined to make a homemade side dish to go with those out-of-a-box chops.  And what is my all time favorite side dish…mac & cheese!  We’re in clean out the kitchen mode and I had about a cup of elbow noodles that needed used up so it was fate.  Mac & cheese it is!

Basic Roux (melt 1T butter, add 1 T flour…whisk, whisk, whisk), dump in some 2% milk (maybe a cup), 2 T light cream cheese (keep whisking),  1 cup freshly shredded sharp cheddar.  S&P to taste.  There is your sauce.  Add the cooked elbows, stir well, cover and turn off the heat for 5 minutes.  Boom!  Easy, peasy stovetop mac & cheese in about 15 minutes…which is almost exactly how long it takes to make Shake n Bake pork chops.

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Valentine’s Dinner

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The week before Valentine’s Day, I came down with a wicked cold.  Horrible headache, coughing, chest congestion, aches, etc.  My office is the worst for passing germs around!!

Jerry is so good to me when I’m sick, letting me go to bed at 7:30 and taking care of Jacob so I can rest.  It took me 4-5 days to knock it out but by the time Valentine’s Day rolled around, I was definitely feeling better.  So I made him one of his favorite dinners…flank steak, roasted veggies and fettuccini alfredo.

It’s no secret that we tend to get fat & happy during the winter months.  Comfort food tastes amazing when it’s freezing and we love to snuggle up on the couch and binge watch lots of good TV.  This winter it’s been House of Cards (so good!), Orange is the New Black (so good!) and Mad Men (so good!).

Now, I’m pretty famous for my fettuccini alfredo because its so freakin’ delicious…but it’s also so freakin’ bad for you.  Butter, parmesan, butter, milk and more butter.  Comfort food at it’s finest.  But as we have to squeeze ourselves into bathing suits in less than 3 weeks (Florida or bust!), I decided to try a lightened up version.  And was quite pleased with the results.

I used this recipe from the food network:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (I would not add this again)
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 cup low-fat (2%) milk
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons Neufchtel or low-fat cream cheese
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I didn’t have any so I didn’t use it)
12 ounces fresh fettuccine (I used 9 oz)
Freshly ground pepper

Directions:
Make the sauce: Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and lemon zest and cook until the garlic is slightly soft, about 1 minute. Add in the flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon,1 minute. Whisk in the milk and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook, whisking constantly, until just thickened, about 3 minutes. Add the Neufchatel and Parmesan cheese; whisk until melted, about 1 minute. Stir in the chopped parsley.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook until al dente, 2 to 3 minutes. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta and return to the pot.

Add the sauce and 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water to the pasta and gently toss to combine, adding more cooking water as needed to loosen. Season with salt. Divide among bowls and top with Parmesan and pepper.

Per serving: Calories 490; Fat 15 g (Saturated 8 g); Cholesterol 48 mg; Sodium 734 mg; Carbohydrate 66 g; Fiber 3 g; Protein 20 g