Thursday, October 30, 2014

Paprika Chicken with Avocado Salsa

You guys...I finally have things hung on the walls of our house. I mean, we've only lived here since last November. So, right on track wouldn't ya say? ::rolls eyes:: But seriously...I spent yesterday morning getting some art and pictures up on the wall and I must say...something as simple as that really does make it feel more homey in here. I have a few more items awaiting their hanging and then I'll be done. For awhile. I still have bedrooms to decorate, but those can wait a little while. Perhaps.

Did I mention that I'm on staycation this week? I'm trying to be household productive while I have the time to do it. Today will be spent in our office. I'm scared...hold me. This is the room in the house that became the catch-all early on. In reality, it probably won't be all that bad once I get in there and start organizing things, but just opening the door and looking in there is overwhelming. Anyone want to come do it for me??

No? Okay, okay...I'll do it. But afterward there better be a cookie waiting for me. A big, ol' cookie. Just kidding J...I wouldn't dream of eating a cookie. Ice cream, however...lives in my dreams. Mmm, ice cream.

Oh...hi. You're all still here. Please excuse my momentary daydream into Candyland.  How's about we talk about this delicious, healthy chicken instead?

Paprika Chicken with Avocado Salsa

This is how we eat 95% of the time, I swear. I won't lie and say that we never ever eat "bad", but we try really hard to eat mostly healthy. It's harder for me than it is for J, no doubt about that. There are just some foods that I love and I crave from time-to-time, no matter how much I know that they are bad for me. Corn dogs, I'm talkin' about you

And again, I digress. Datgummit!

So, this chicken. So simple, but so so delicious. I mean, paprika...is one purdy amazing, and probably underused, spice. I'll admit that for a long time I thought that it was mostly used for color. I know, I know...how very wrong I was. Simple grilled chicken with a tasty avocado salsa makes for a healthy and delicious dinner that will leave your taste-buds singing with joy. Oh, and your waistline (or hips, if that's your area) will thank you, too. ::wink::

Paprika Chicken with Avocado Salsa

Ingredients
  • 4 thinly sliced chicken breasts
  • ½ teaspoon Hot Hungarian Paprika
  • ½ teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
  • 3 green onions, sliced

Preparation
  1. Combine the paprika, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Season the chicken on both sides of the mixture.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or grill pan over medium high heat. Once hot, add the chicken, in batches if necessary, and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown (or grill marks) cooked through. 
  3. Remove from the skillet, squeeze a bit of of lemon juice on top and set aside. Repeat the process with the remaining chicken.
  4. While the chicken is cooking, combine the lemon juice, avocado, tomatoes, and green onions in a small bowl. Toss to coat and season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
  5. Serve chicken with avocado salsa.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sammich Saturday: Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Sandwich

Eeee! It's Saturday! Finally!!! Granted, I'm always excited for the weekend, but I'm especially excited for this weekend. Perhaps because I'm off work next week so this is the beginning of a looooong weekend?!?! And, to top it off, I have a Sammich Saturday post to share with you all!

Last night I took my Little to a Fall Festival held at a water park here in town (no water activities involved, though). I can't say that I've ever been to a fall festival before, so I was just as excited as she was! I always have a great time with her, she's such a vibrant little girl!


Chicken Parm Sammich

And this morning I will (finally) be going to see my godson play T-ball. I can't believe he's going to be four in March...time has really flown by! He's such a big boy now!! And then, later on today, J and I will be going to a birthday bash for the boot  camp we go to...obstacle course, BBQ dinner, bonfire, and live music. Should be a good time!! 

But, you  know what still has to be done despite all that running around? Cooking! It's hard to get lunch done when you're running around all morning, but with these little sammiches, all you have to do is throw everything in the crock-pot, go run your errands, and come home to a hot, delicious meal!! J loves marinara sauce, so I knew these would be a big hit with him. I added some avocado as a last minute idea because - well, just because I love avocado! And it was delish!! 

So, before you run out of the house to go run your errands, throw this dish together in your crock-pot and that's one less thing you'll have to deal with when you come home hungry (especially if you have a hungry clan of kids/spouse/etc. with you!)

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Sandwich

Ingredients
  • 29 oz canned tomato sauce
  • 14.5 oz canned petite diced tomatoes
  • 12 oz canned tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp dried parsley leaves
  • ½ tsp dried oregano leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 Tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped (about 6 leaves)
  • 3-4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (thawed)
  • sliced or shredded mozzarella cheese
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • 4-6 hard rolls
  • 1 avocado, sliced

Preparation
  1. Start the slow cooker on low heat.
  2. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, and herbs. Stir until well-combined.
  3. Set chicken breasts on top of the sauce, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, cover and cook on low for 6 hours (or on high for 3-4).
  4. When done, use two forks to shred the chicken, or throw the breasts into the bowl of your stand mixer and use the paddle attachment to shred (I love this way so, so much!)
  5. Slice the rolls in half and toast on a hot skillet.
  6. Use tongs or a slotted spoon, tapping excess sauce into the pot, and place a generous helping of the chicken mixture into each of the sliced rolls. 
  7. Top with a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan, mozzarella, and avocado slices and serve.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Garlic-Mustard Pork Tenderloin

Um, hi. Is it June yet? Because we have airlines tickets and an amazing honeymoon in Costa Rica booked and I'm ready to go. Like, yesterday.

You guys!

How am I going to wait for 7 months, 3 weeks, and 1 day?? Well, 2 days before the honeymoon, but I'm talking about the wedding. I'm ready to marry him, now. Have I mentioned that patience is not my strongest attribute?

I guess it's a good thing I have 999,999 things to keep me busy in the mean time. Both wedding and non-wedding related. Cooking, hanging out with my Little, church and the small group we joined last week, etc. Speaking of cooking...I guess you'd like to know about that lovely plate o' pork down below, eh?

Garlic-Mustard Pork Tenderloin

It's gooooood. Like, I wish I had more dipping sauce, good. I actually doubled the amounts for the marinade/sauce below, because instead of using it to brush on during cooking, I saved it for dipping, and the 1/4 the original recipe called for to be reserved didn't go very far as a dipping sauce. Drat. So, I fixed it up real nice for you all, so you will have plenty of mustard-y delicious dipping sauce for yours. You're welcome, in advance.

Oh, and remember how I told you on Monday that I was starting Camp Gladiator? Yeah, did that. And today...my entire body hurts. No joke...from my shoulders down to my calves, and pretty much every muscle in between is so sore! If I sit in a chair and don't move much, I forget. And then I go to get up. Or sit back down. And ohdearLordI'mgoingtodie. Yeah, that kind of sore. The kind that feels like you haven't worked out in years instead of just a couple of months.

I told the trainer that I think J's trying to kill me before the wedding. They both got a good chuckle out of that. Guess who wasn't quite as amused? I'll be back out there today and if it doesn't kill me, I hope that I'll be much less sore in the morning.

I'm also on day 3 of the 10-day AdvoCare cleanse and so far, so good. I've been very diligent about drinking the fiber drink, plenty of water, eating breakfast and healthy snacks throughout the day. These are usually challenging tasks for me. But, I'm determined. And usually, if I set my mind to something and actually start it, I'm pretty good at following through. We'll see what Mr. Scale tells me on Monday...

Until then...get ye to the kitchen and make this dish!!

Garlic-Mustard Pork Tenderloin
As seen on Pink Parsley, originally from Bobby Flay: Grilling for Life

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup whole-grain mustard
  • 4 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pork tenderloins, trimmed 

Preparation
  1. Whisk together all the ingredients (mustard through black pepper). Reserve half of the marinade, then pour the remaining marinade into large resealable plastic bag. Add the pork tenderloins to the bag, seal, and press and turn to make sure the pork is well covered on all sides. 
  2. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
  3. Preheat a grill pan, or large skillet, over medium-high heat, and spray with cooking spray. 
  4. Remove the pork tenderloins from the marinade, letting any excess marinade drip back into the bag, and place in the hot pan. Allow to cook, without moving for about 5 minutes - to get a good sear. Repeat this process until all sides are seared and the internal temperature is 135-140 degrees.  
  5. Remove to a large cutting board and allow to sit for about 10 minutes before slicing into 1/2-inch medallions. Serve with the reserved marinade and your favorite sides!

Monday, October 13, 2014

General Tso's Beef Meatballs

Happy Discovery of America day! 'Murica!!!

Ok, so the only thing that this "holiday" does for me, is make less traffic for the drive into work. Which I am very grateful for. Have I mentioned before that traffic in Austin is a nightmare? 110 people move here a day. A day, y'all. That is insanity.

On another note, today starts the super-duper, get-in-shape-for-the-wedding, crackdown. I started an AdvoCare 10-day cleanse today, and I will also be signing up for 6 months of Camp Gladiator boot camp. J has been going for awhile and, while I'm not a huge fan of boot camps or group fitness in general, I want to get into pristine shape before our wedding and honeymoon (and the cruise in December, for that matter), and this will help me to do that as well as spend that extra time with J. I'm sure I will whine and cry about it here plenty, but the results should be worth it in the end.

That also means I need to crack down on my eating habits. Not that they are terrible now, but if I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it right. And since I have an amazing personal trainer at my disposal 24/7, I guess I may as well let him help me, right? ;)  He'll make sure I take the right supplements, I'll make the healthy meals, and we'll workout together. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me!


General Tso's Meatballs

Oh, I had J take "before" pics last night so that I can really see the progress month-to-month, and let me just say...I am not a fan of nearly-naked photos. At all. Ick. But, they will give me more motivation to stick to this get-fit, wedding-prep program when I'm tired or sore or want a tub of ice cream.

I bet you're ready to hear about the food now, eh? Well, this is a good'un for sure. I bought some coconut flour recently for another recipe, and when I saw that these meatballs also used it, I was doubly excited. I opted to use lean, ground sirloin for the meatballs, but ground chicken or turkey would also be amazing. The sauce was delicious and other than me accidentally dumping too much coconut flour in the mixture and making them a teeny bit dry, they were amazing. The sauce definitely took care of the dryness though. And you won't put too much flour in, so you won't have that issue anyway.

You need these in your life. Heck, I need more of these in my life!

General Tso's Meatballs
As seen on Cookaholic Wife, originally from I Breathe...I'm Hungry...

Ingredients

For the sauce

  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce 
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch 
  • 6 green onions, green parts chopped
  • 3-4 tsp garlic chile sauce

For the meatballs

  • 1 lb ground sirloin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 cup almond or coconut flour (I used coconut flour)
  • 1 egg


Preparation

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, honey, water and cornstarch. Whisk until well combined and no chunks of cornstarch are left. Stir in the green onions and garlic chile sauce and bring to a boil.
  2. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened, then remove from the heat.*
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and top it with a wire cooling rack. Spray the rack with cooking spray to prevent sticking. 
  4. Combine the ground sirloin, ginger, green onions, garlic powder, almond or coconut flour and egg in a large bowl. Mix well (I use my hands - I think it's easier and allows for more even mixing.) Using a medium cookie scoop or tablespoon, form the mixture into evenly-sized meatballs, about 1" in diameter. Place on the prepared wire rack and back for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through. 
  5. Remove from the oven and transfer the meatballs to a large bowl. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and toss or stir to coat, then serve with rice and a veggie. 
*You can place the saucepan over low heat to keep warm when the meatballs are almost done - say the last 5 minutes, so that the sauce is warm and easily poured when it's time to serve. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Cilantro-Lime Salmon

The past week has been a whirlwind...we booked a venue and set our wedding date (squee!!), I met my Little from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program - such a sweet girl - and I got a promotion at work! Because of the promotion, I cut back on days at my second job and now have my weekends free again, which is AMAZING! Let me just say that working 7 days a week for the past 2 1/2 months was...tough. But I did it by my own choice, not out of necessity, so I can't complain too much, right? I am truly blessed in this life, and thankful for my fiance who is so supportive and understanding, even when it meant sacrificing a lot of our time together while I was working so much. But, in the end everything happens for a reason and it all worked out pretty perfectly. Now I'm counting down the days until I become a Mrs. and diving head first into my new responsibilities at work and as a Big Sister.

Since I'm home more during the week now, I've been able to enjoy cooking dinner most nights again. Salmon is probably one of my favorite things to cook, so I'm always looking for new, flavorful ways to make it. Sometimes the recipe seems so simple, but turns out to be so delicious - this was one of those.

Cilantro-Lime Salmon

A simple mixture of olive oil, cilantro, lime juice and zest, jalapeno and garlic atop salmon fillets makes for one quick and easy, but very delicious dinner!

Cilantro-Lime Salmon
As seen on Closet Cooking

Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 salmon fillets
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, line a baking sheet with cooking spray, and set aside. 
  2. Place the oil, lime, juice and zest, cilantro, jalapeno and garlic in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  3. Place the salmon on the prepared baking sheet (skin side down if it has the skin on), season with salt and pepper, top with cilantro mixture, and bake 10-15 minutes or until cooked through. Use spatula to separate fillets from the skin and serve with your favorite sides!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Crispy Blackened Shrimp Fettuccine

Hiiiiii, friends!!! Can you believe that it's October already?? I mean, wasn't it just the beginning of summer?? I'm not ready for winter, y'all. Not even a little bit. Fall, sure. Winter...never. I am ready to make some yummy fall dishes. You know...soup, chili, pumpkin-y things. Then if we could just skip right over winter and head straight into spring, that would be fantastic. Don't you agree?? Not only is the cold pretty terrible, but I lose my daylight around 6 o'clock instead of 8 or 9. Big boo to that. Big fat, I-can't-take-pictures-if-it's-dark, BOO.

Things have been pretty crazy lately, but my schedule is finally settling down. I got a promotion at work, cut down the days I'm working at my second job so I now have most of my weeknights and all of my weekend FREE!! You have no idea how excited that makes me. And alas, with those extra weeknights free, I actually have the time to cook and take pictures when there is actually still light outside. I told J last night, "Baby, it's a miracle!! I actually got a picture of supper!!!" That's how bad it's been you guys. In case the two week silence didn't let you know. But, I'm baaaaack!! And with a pretty killer recipe, too.

Blackened Shrimp Fettucine 001

Just look at those beautiful shrimpies. Yep, I called them shrimpies. And I wish I had some in front of me right now. Coated in blackened seasoning and crisped up in a little oil & butter, tossed with fettuccine and a creamy sauce. Yeah. That right there is pretty much heaven in a skillet. And then in a bowl. And then in your mouth. 

I don't make pasta dishes all that often, but when I make one like this I have to ask myself, why?? Why don't I make them more, because they are sooooo delicious!! I guess we appreciate and enjoy it more though, since it's not an everyday occurrence...more like a super tasty treat. Let's just put it this way...I rarely go back for seconds, but I had  to get another scoop of this before putting away the leftovers. That, my friends, says a lot. We had a nice side salad to go along, and I had it all completed in about...12 minutes. Yep, you read that right. 

Blackened Shrimp Fettucine 003

Big, crispy blackened shrimp tossed with creamy fettuccine...you need this in your life. Stat. 

Crispy Blackened Shrimp Fettuccine
Slightly adapted from Jo Cooks

Ingredients
  • 6 oz fettuccine
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
  • 1 Tbsp blackened seasoning 
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Preparation
  1. Cook fettuccine according to package instructions.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, place the shrimp in a large bowl. Sprinkle with blackened seasoning and toss to coat. Add more seasoning if you'd like. Sprinkle flour on shrimp and toss again to coat. 
  3. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add oil and butter and allow butter to melt. Add shrimp and cook, without moving them, for 1-2 minutes to get a good sear and crispness. Carefully flip the shrimp and repeat the process for another minute or so. Remove shrimp to a plate. 
  4. Add the chicken broth and heavy cream to the same skillet. Season with salt, pepper, and more blackened seasoning, if you'd like. Stir to break up any bits that may be on the bottom of the skillet and allow to cook for 3-5 minutes, until the sauce thickens a bit. Add in the parmesan and stir to combine. 
  5. Add in the drained fettuccine and stir to coat in the sauce. Top with the reserved shrimp, garnish with some chopped parsley if you like, and serve with your favorite side salad and crusty bread!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sweet 'n' Spicy Omelet (SSO)

Yesterday was J's birthday, and since we both had to work, I wanted to at least start his day off with a breakfast that he loves but wouldn't normally have during the week. h recently went to a Fast & Fit Meal Prep get-together (I had to work so couldn't go with him), and this little gem was one of the ideas he came home with. When he first told me about it, I thought it sounded weird but I made it for him one morning (my first time to make an omelet too, btw) and it was purdy darn good!

SSO

Eggs, agave, lemon pepper seasoning, and cheese. It doesn't get much simpler than that. The only thing you need to add, is patience. Omelets take a minute. Or ten. And while it takes a little longer than it might for breakfast tacos or whatnot, it is totally worth the wait. And now, I'm thinking of other omelet variations I can make for my honey on the weekends. The possibilities are endless! But I definitely suggest trying this one.

Sweet 'n' Spicy Omelet (SSO)
Source: Larry St. Clair (a friend of J's)

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp Agave nectar
  • 2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (your choice)

Preparation
  1. Whisk the eggs together in a medium bowl. Stir in the agave and lemon pepper. 
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. 
  3. Add the egg mixture, cover, and allow to cook until the edges are firm (the center will still be runny/soupy.) This can take up to 10 minutes - be patient!
  4. When the edges are firm sprinkle the cheese on top, replace the cover, and allow the cheese to melt. 
  5. Using a spatula, carefully fold one half of the omelet over onto the other half. Allow to cook for another minute or so, so it melts together then carefully slide it onto a plate. 
  6. Drizzle with extra agave, if you'd like. Enjoy!!
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