Archive for the '1' Category

Shiitake and Sweet Pea Risotto

Believe it or not, I’d never tried risotto until I moved to the North End after college. In fact, I didn’t even know what it was! One things for sure…I fell in love at first bite. Unlike a typical rice, this had a creamy, cheesy thickness, and was full of my favorite things: shrimp or chicken, mushrooms or butternut squash; to me, it was my carb and my vegetable in one, the perfect combination. The only thing is, I knew the restaurant versions had to be fat laden, because they were just too tasty! Ever since my first taste, I’ve been trying to perfect my own, lighter risotto. On this one, I think I came pretttty darn close. Thanks for the inspiration, Cooking Light!

Shiitake and Sweet Pea Risotto
Inspired by March 2010’s Cooking Light
Ingredients:
4 Cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 T butter
½ cup chopped onion
1.5 tsp minced garlic, divided
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
4 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps
¾ cup frozen green peas
6 T parmesan cheese, divided
¼ tsp ground black pepper

Directions:

1) Bring chicken broth to a simmer in a saucepan, keep warm over low heat.

2) Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook 2 minutes. Add 1 tsp garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add rice; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently. Stir in ½ cup broth; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes).

3) Spray large skillet over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms, and sauté until tender. Add remaining garlic, and set aside.

4) Stir mushrooms, peas, ¼ cup cheese, and pepper into risotto; cook 3 minutes. Serve, and sprinkle each serving with cheese.

A creamy, cheesy, healthy risotto. Amen!

Coconut Shrimp Coma

I used to despise coconut. That is until I tried my twin sister’s coconut shrimp. Red Lobster coconut shrimp to be exact. Crispy, deep fried, golden deliciousness; heaven on a plate. Or should I say heart attack on a plate. Yes, that would be correct. Regardless, ordering it as a treat every now-and-then is so much fun, and satisfies my recurring (and random!) coconut cravings. However, since Red Lobster no longer exists in New England (which I’m not okay with since to me, it‘s one of the best chains around!), I’ve wanted to try making it myself, with healthier ingredients. Thank goodness for Cooking Light! The January/February issue had a coconut shrimp recipe in their “quick and easy” category, so I was immediately intrigued. It calls for Jumbo shrimp, but I used medium and they were perfect! With just 5 ingredients needed, you’ll quickly be in a coconut coma, guaranteed.
Coconut Shrimp
Inspired by Cooking Light’s Coconut Shrimp
Ingredients:
30 medium frozen shrimp
½ cup flaked sweetened coconut
½ cup whole wheat panko crumbs
1/3 cup cornstarch
¾ cup liquid egg whites
*1-2 tsp. canola oil if desired
Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350*|
2)Thaw shrimp under running water. Peel, leaving tails intact; discard shells. Place coconut in a food processor; pulse 6 times or until finely chopped.
3) Add panko; pulse to combine.

4) Place coconut mixture in a shallow dish. Place cornstarch in a shallow dish. Place egg whites in a shallow dish.

5) Working with 1 shrimp at a time, dredge shrimp in cornstarch, shaking off excess. Dip in egg whites; dredge in coconut mixture.

6) Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray. (Add 1-2 teaspoons of canola oil to pan if needed); swirl to coat. Add 10-12 shrimp to pan; coat tops of shrimp with cooking spray. Cook shrimp 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until done. Repeat procedure 3 times with remaining oil and shrimp.

7) Place shrimp in oven on a lined cookie sheet for 3-5 minutes for an extra crispy coating!

As a side note, I didn’t make the mango sauce the original recipe called for. Instead, I made a cocktail sauce, since that’s what I prefer. Although the shrimp may look a littleeee burnt, they weren’t, the panko crumbs got extra toasting. The verdict: My roommates loved them just as much as I did! Crispy, yet light, and packed full of flavor-this one’s a repeat!

Marinated Vegetables

Veggies and dip: A classic, healthy, extremely common appetizer present at most gatherings. Don’t get me wrong, I love this classic combination, but sometimes I just get tired of it. It could be because I eat lettuce and carrots as often as a rabbit, as does my twin sister. We can’t help it, we love vegetables! I can speak for both of us when I say that we often discuss how we’re both sick of the traditional veggie tray or salad..
Between washing the lettuce, cutting the vegetables, making a dressing, roasting nuts—it all takes time! With all of the Swiss Skincare Workshops I’ve been doing recently, I’ve needed to prepare quick, simple, and healthy appetizers to have on hand for my lovely guests. Enter: My Mom’s classic Marinated Vegetables. A savvy twist on your traditional veggie tray; this beautiful dish takes minutes to prepare, and just seconds to gobble down! Plus, it’s flexible. Choose the veggies your heart desires, or if you have veggies you need to use, toss those in too! I stuck closely to my Mom’s recipe, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Be sure to make this the night before a gathering-it tastes best when it’s been refrigerated for 24 hours!
Mom’s Marinated Vegetables
3 stalks celery
4 stalks broccoli
8 large mushrooms (halved)
½ head cauliflower
½ red pepper cut in strips
½ yellow pepper cut in strips
½ orange pepper cut in strips

Sauce:
½ cup sugar (or 1 tsp. artificial sweetener)*
1 tsp. Dry mustard
¼ cup vinegar
¼ cup polyunsaturated oil
¼ cup water
½ small onion-grated
1 T poppy seed
*It’s up to you whether you want to use the real sugar, or artificial.  I’ve tried it with both, and they taste relatively similar (and sweet!)

Directions: Whisk ingredients together or blend in a blender and pour over the veggies. Mix thoroughly, cover, and marinate all day, stirring occasionally.

Serve with toothpicks, and you have an easy, healthy, treat appropriate for any party or gathering. Enjoy!

cookies n’ cupcakes

I may have already mentioned that I have quite a sweet tooth. I blame it on my Dad, who can’t go a day without dark chocolate, on my Mom, who baked everyday of my childhood, on my Grandfather, who thinks Apple Crisp is a fruit, and on myself, for continuing these traditions! Dessert just makes my day brighter J Holidays are great because it’s an excuse to bake…yay! So this year, when Valentines Day came around, I knew exactly what I wanted to make…cupcakes! Cookies n’ Cream cupcakes to be exact. And to be more “valentiney” I made pink frosting. Homemade fluffy white cake; check. A sleeve of oreos; check. Homemade frosting; check. Pink food coloring; check. Another sleeve of oreos and a spatula to lick the bowl; check, check. Trust me, you can’t stop at one!!
Cookies n’ Cream Cupcakes inspired by How Sweet it is
Ingredients

 

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
10 Oreo cookies

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*

Cream butter, sugar, and eggs together until fluffy. Add vanilla.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add half of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Add the milk. Once mixed, add remaining dry ingredients. Crush the Oreos and add them into the batter.

Pour into cupcake tins and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350*.

Let cool, then frost.

Cookies n’ Cream Frosting

2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 – 2 lbs powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons milk
10 Oreo cookies

Directions:
Mix butter and powdered sugar together, adding sugar gradually to the mix. Add vanilla. Mix in milk, adding more if needed. Continue to add milk and sugar until it reaches the desired consistency.

Crush Oreos and fold them into the frosting.

Congrats to you if you can stop at one!

P.S. Cupcake carriers were the best invention ever!!

Perfect Pitas

Long before Pita Chips became a popular item on store shelves and a staple at weekend gatherings, my Mom was making her own pitas on a daily basis. Since the moment my twin sister and I tasted the buttery, whole wheat goodness, we knew she should have trademarked them! I won’t deny that I am a huge fan of Stacy’s Pita Chips (naked, cinnamon sugar, etc.) but nothing beats my Mom’s pitas. Not only are they whole wheat, but they’re low in calories compared to your standard pita or potato chip, low in fat, and are extremely inexpensive to make. They’ve become a favorite of my roomies and most of my childhood friends, too. Served with a side of hummus or eaten alone, they make the perfect appetizer, side for a sandwich, or a salty treat!

Ingredients
Butter flavored cooking spray
Molly McButter Natural Cheese Flavored Sprinkles
Molly McButter Natural Butter Flavored Sprinkles
Butter Buds Sprinkles
Joseph’s Flax, Oat Bran, and Whole Wheat Pitas (regular size or mini will work!)


Directions
Preheat oven to 350*
Line cookie sheets with tin foil, and spray foil with butter spray
Cut (or tear) pitas in half
Place facing up on cookie sheets
Spray pitas with cooking spray evenly

Coat each pita with a light shake of each butter salt (natural cheese, natural butter, and butter buds)

Bake at 350* for 3-5 minutes or until lightly browned

Remove promptly, let cool for 5 minutes, and break apart into desired chip-like sizes

Salty ‘N Sweet

I’ve never been one to crave salty foods. I blame it on my massive sweet tooth. Most of my meals are rounded out with a sweet treat (Dove Dark’s and mini Butterfinger’s are my favorites!) rather than a bag of chips. However, the older I get, the more salt I crave. Salt bagels, soft pretzels, and pita chips are a few of my favorite foods that fulfill my cravings. Recently, I’ve had sweet and salty cravings at the same time. What’s a girl to do? Find a snack that caters to both, of course! At Christmas every year, one of my favorite desserts is Caramel Turtles. Reason being: it’s a sweet and salty treat, all in one. Salty pecans mixed with sweet caramels and milk chocolate, what‘s not to love? I’ll tell you what’s not to love: the time it takes to make them! So when my Aunt Martha told my Mom about an easy turtle recipe over Christmas, I wasted no time before trying them!

Easy Chocolate Turtles
Ingredients:
One bag salted pretzel twists
One bag Rolos
One bag Pecans
 Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2) Line cookie sheet with parchment paper

3) Unwrap Rolo candies and set to the side in a bowl

 
4) Cover paper with pretzel twists
5) Place a Rolo on each pretzel
6) Place tray in oven for 2 minutes, or until Rolo’s have softened (don’t let them melt completely!)

7) Remove tray when softened, and press a pecan into each Rolo.

8 ) Place in fridge until hardened (approx. 30 minutes). Enjoy!

A salty, sweet, easy treat. Thanks, Auntie M!

Soup Soothes the Soul

I’ve come to the conclusion that my lunches just don’t feel complete without a cup of soup. At least, that’s what I felt like today. With a blizzard developing outside, today seemed like the perfect day to sit down on my lunch hour with a steaming cup of chicken noodle, minestrone, or some sort of veggie based soup. Too bad our cafeteria is severely lacking in the soup department. Today’s “Italian Wedding” was anything but enticing. So for the greater part of my afternoon, all I could think about was what I didn’t eat for lunch, and what I could make to feed my craving at dinnertime. Originally, I had my eye on the mass amounts of red peppers in my fridge, along with a quickly aging head of cauliflower, but broccoli edged the cauliflower out in the end. I don’t know about you, but I love broccoli…steamed, roasted, sautéed; you name it, I’ll eat it. Despite my love of broccoli, I rarely eat broccoli soup, mostly because restaurant’s version’s of broccoli cheddar soup cram in too much cream and heavy cheese for my liking. I was thrilled to find this recipe that incorporated my love of parmesan cheese and broccoli in a light, yet satisfying soup. Serve with a side salad and some pita chips, and you have a great lunch on your hands. Blizzard? What blizzard? This soup is going to warm me up all week long!
 
Potato and Broccoli Parmesan Soup
Inspired by Cooking Lights Potato and Broccoli Soup

Ingredients
 

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 3/4 pounds broccoli, thick stems peeled and diced (about 2 cups), tops cut into small florets (about 1 quart)

1 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes (about 5), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

3 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock

3 cups water

1 3/4 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Directions
1. In a large pot, melt the butter over moderately low heat. Add the onion; cook, stirring occasionally,about 5 minutes.
2. Add the garlic, broccoli stems, potatoes, broth, water, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are almost tender, about 10 minutes.

3. In a food processor or blender, pulse the soup to a coarse puree. Return the soup to the pot and bring to a simmer.


4. Add the broccoli florets and simmer until they are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir 1/4 cup of the grated Parmesan into the soup, and serve the soup topped with the remaining cheese.

 
 Best part about this recipe…it took 30 minutes at the most to complete from start to finish! An easy dish after a long day at work always puts a smile on my face. Take a look at my lunch pack:

It’s not just delicious, but also nutritious. Look at these health benefits!!!

Broccoli:
-Provides a high amount of vitamin C, which aids iron absorption in the body.
-The folic acid in broccoli helps women sustain normal tissue growth.
-The potassium in broccoli aids those battling high blood pressure, while a large amount of calcium helps combat osteoporosis.
-It’s fiber-rich, which enhances the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, as well as aims to reduce blood cholesterol levels.
Three cheers for broccoli!!!