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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Stuffed Avocados

Lucky for us, my hubby brought home a bag full of avocados from someone at his work that has a tree in his backyard. When I say a bagful....I  mean a bagful! I'm not even sure what we are going to do with all of them as they are all ripening at one time. Guacamole? Yes! Avocado sandwiches? Yes! Salsa? Yes! But seriously, there is NO way we can eat all these. So tonight I was thinking of a side dish to go with our Ahi Tuna steaks. Then the thought struck me to get an avocado and just start filling it with all the things I love. Ok...not ALL the things, trust me I couldn't stuff my hubby in there and I DO love him! But I'm glad I tried this and I will definitely be recreating it soon. Probably tomorrow as I sit and look at so many ripe avocados on my kitchen counter. ;)
The combo  of flavors worked very well together. It's got just enough spice to give it a kick. If you don't like spice, you can leave out the jalapeno, but try to live on the wild side and just leave it in. It really does add a great element to the dish!
2 Avocados
1/4 cup corn (fresh, frozen and thawed, or canned)
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
 1 jalapeno, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Salt/Pepper to taste
25 Smokehouse roasted almonds (these are the ones with the smoky flavor added)

Cut  your 2 avocados in half. Using a spoon, scoop out the meat of the avocado.

 Set the skins aside to fill later.

Cut up the avocado meat in bite size chunks. Place it in a bowl. Add to that bowl, the corn, cilantro, jalapeno, salt and pepper.

Squeeze the lime juice over the mixture and stir well. Set aside.

 Using the pulse button on your food processor, pulse a few times and process  the almonds until they are very small little pieces. Set the almonds aside. *If you don't have a processor, you can very finely chop them

Right before you are ready to serve the dish, stir the almonds into the avocado mixture. If you stir them in too early, they will soften up too much. 

Use a spoon to fill up the avocado skins with the avocado mixture. Serve immediately!

Ancho Chile Grilled Ahi Tuna with Pineapple and Strawberry Salsa

Tonight as the hubby and I were eating this, we both kept saying "yum." Ok so they hubby didn't say "yum", but he did say it was wonderful. I was the one sitting there saying "oh my gosh...yum....this is ssssoooo good." I loved the combination of the sweet, and spicy and it complimented the fish very well. 
If you have a food processor, you can just put all the salsa ingredients in the food processor except the avocado and pulse it until you have made your salsa and then just  chop the avocado  and add it to it. That's what I did! I love my food processor, it makes everything so much easier. If you don't have one, then just get to chopping.
Recipe adapted from:

Salsa Ingredients:

1/4 pineapple, diced
4 strawberries, diced
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 large jalapeno, diced
2 avocados, diced
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
Zest and juice of 1 large lime
1 1/2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp salt

Stir all ingredients together well. Set in refrigerator until the fish is ready to serve. If it gets a little watery from the juice of the berries, just drain off the liquid.

Ahi Tuna ingredients:

2 Ahi Tuna steak
1 tsp Ancho Chile Powder
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp ginger (powdered)
1/2 tsp coriander

Stir together the Ancho chile powder, brown sugar, salt, pepper, ginger and coriander until blended to make a "rub."  Rub this on both sides of the tuna steaks. Grill until cooked through. Serve with the salsa on top.

* I used my indoor grill because I was out of  propane. I'm not sure of timing on an outdoor grill.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Lemon Garlic Chicken and Veggie Brown Rice Bowl with Lemon Garlic Dressing

Tastiness and healthiness in one bowl for dinner! There is so much to be said for that. It's always nice knowing that what you are putting in your body is good for you and provides energy and the nourishment you need to survive. Since my last few posts have revolved around sweets and other not so healthy treats, I thought it would be good to blog last nights dinner. This was so simple to make and great for a healthy meal. I wish there were leftovers so I could eat it again today. There is some leftover dressing and I will more than likely use that for a salad at lunch today.
For the chicken and veggies:
1 cup brown rice, cooked according to pkg directions

2 chicken breasts, cut into medium/large chunks
Juice of 1/2 a large lemon
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 zucchini, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
7 asparagus spears, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
salt/pepper to taste
 olive oil (enough to drizzle over ingredients and cook them in the pan)

For the dressing: 
Juice from 2 lemons
5 Tbsp olive oil
3 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

For the Garnish:
3 green onions, chopped
cilantro, chopped (as much or as little as you like)
Cocktail or dry roasted peanuts (as much or as little as you like)

Begin cooking your rice according to the package directions.
While your rice is cooking, make your dressing by mixing all the ingredients in the "for the dressing" section above. Place the dressing into the refrigerator until ready to use.

In a large skillet, place all the ingredients in the "for the chicken and veggie" section above. Cook until the veggies are firm, but tender and the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Place the cooked chicken and veggies on top of your hot brown rice and top with garnishes and the lemon dressing you prepared earlier. Serve warm.

Lemon Bread with a Boysenberry/Blackberry Swirl and a Lemon Glaze

Oh my goodness, I want to take this loaf of bread and find a secret spot that nobody knows about and eat the entire thing! I think that's what I would have done if I hadn't needed to save it for company. The lemon and the berry go so well together and compliment each other perfectly. Good thing the hubby likes it, because he will have to eat it all before I have the chance to get into it. Don't feel too bad for him, he really loves this bread too! As I type this, I can hear a leftover slice calling from the refrigerator......uh oh, time to find the hubby and offer him another slice!

Recipe adapted from:

For the Bread:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Zest of 2 lemons
1 cup fresh boysenberries and blackberries (1 cup total, not 1 cup of each)
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup coconut milk
 5 blackberries or boysenberries

For the Glaze:
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

To make the bread:
Heat oven to 350°.
Spray a 13x9x5 inch loaf pan with Pam.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest.

Place the berries into a separate bowl and put 1 Tbsp of the flour mixture over the berries. Toss the flour mixture with the berries. This will prevent the berries from sinking to the bottom of your bread while it's baking.

Beat butter about 1 minute. Add the sugar and continue to mix for 2-3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in vanilla. With the mixer on low, alternate adding the flour mixture (in three separate additions) and the coconut milk (in two separate additions). Mix only until combined. Gently fold in the berries. Place batter into the prepared loaf pan.

In a small bowl, place 5 berries. "Squish" "them up with a fork until they render just a bit of juice. Using a spoon, place the squished berries and the bit of juice onto the top of the batter. Using a knife, gently pull through the batter back and forth and around in swirls, to "swirl" this mixture into the batter.

Bake for 55 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

To make the lemon glaze:
In a small, microwavable bowl, mix the sugar and the lemon juice. Right before your bread comes out of the oven, microwave  the glaze for 20 seconds. Stir it well. When the bread is done, use a toothpick  or a skewer to poke holes all over the bread. Brush the top of the bread with the hot lemon glaze.
Cool the bread in the pan for about 30 minutes, them remove from the bread from the loaf pan, place on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Caramel, Peanut Butter, Krispy Candies's to another diet killer! Thankfully I showed restraint and only  had one small  nibble of one candy. Hold the applause..."thank you, thank you very much."
It took everything in me not to tear into these bad boys and eat them all up. I'm glad we had company arriving, so I knew at least some, if not all, of them would not be tempting me anymore. I wish I could have sent the rest home with our sweet friends, but since they were flying back home to Oregon the next day, I don't think these would have held up! So now I have to refrain from looking at them in my refrigerator to keep from falling off the diet wagon.
20 Kraft Caramels
Peanut Butter
1 (11.5 oz) bag Milk Chocolate Chips
3/4 cup Rice Krispies

Unwrap individual caramels. Using a spoon, place a small (or large, if you REALLY want these peanut buttery tasting) amount of peanut butter onto the top of each caramel. Set aside.

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave or on top of a double boiler. (If using the microwave, only cook in 15 second intervals and stir well between each 15 seconds. Keep stirring because they will melt and smooth out as you stir). When the chocolate is all smooth, add the Rice Krispies to the chocolate and stir until mixed in thoroughly.

Using a fork, dip each peanut butter topped caramel into the chocolate mixture. You will likely need a spoon to cover the caramel in chocolate. Lift up the candy with the fork and let any excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. Place each candy on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. After all candies have been dipped, place the cookie sheet  into the refrigerator for approx 15 minutes or until chocolate is all firmed up. Take out of the refrigerator and let sit out a few minutes to bring the caramel back to room temp. You can eat these directly from the refrigerator, but the caramel gets a little harder to bite into. Enjoy!

Maplewood Kale Chips

The nutritional info for Kale is quite amazing! One cup of kale contains 34 calories, 6.7g of total carbohydrates and 1.3g of dietary fiber. This is a great way to eat your vegetables and not add butter, cheese and other bad fats to your diet. I have been making these all winter and spring and I am just now getting around to blogging them. I have tried making many different versions, like using salt and vinegar and spicy red pepper. This Maplewood is by far my favorite version.

1 bunch of Kale
Olive Oil
Grill Mates Maplewood seasoning (this is a dry powder seasoning sold in the spice aisle at most markets)

Heat oven to 375°
Wash your Kale. Seperate the leaves from the "spine" of the Kale by running a knife down both sides of the ribbing. Tear or cut your leaves into chip size  pieces. Place the cut leaves  into a large bowl. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the top of them. (Don't use too much or the burn a lot easier). Use your hands to toss all the olive oil around the Kale. They should have an even glistening of oil on the leaves. Place the oiled leaves onto a cookie sheet or broiler pan. Place in oven for 15 minutes. Using tongs, flip the chips over. Place back in the oven for 10-15 more minutes or until they are crisp.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Salmon and Pineapple Ceviche

I know that salmon is usually not the fish of choice for ceviche. Well tonight it had to be. That was about the only choice in my freezer at the moment. I also know that no one traditionally puts pineapple in their ceviche. Well I wanted to give it a try. I'm really glad I did! When I was pulling all the ingredients out of my refrigerator for dinner, I saw a beautiful fresh pineapple staring back at me. I have made several seafood dishes with pineapple salsa on top of them, so I thought, why not try it in ceviche? So after a trip out to my garden to pick some ripe tomatoes and a couple ripe jalapenos, I got started throwing it together. Laziness overtook my brain and I decided to use my food processor to chop everything for this dish, which would have been fine, except that I got a little too aggressive with the "pulse" button! I ended up making salsa out of it instead of a nicely chopped mix for ceviche. Needless to say, I poured it on top of the fish anyway and then set out to chop a few extra chunks of tomato, cilantro and chives so it wouldn't look as though I had made salsa with fish in it! So if you decide to use your food processor to make this, go gentle on the "pulse button" or you will have to do some extra chopping also!
2 Salmon fillets, chopped into bite size chunks
3 large lemons, juiced
2 jalapeno peppers, diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
3/4 cup green onions, chopped
4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp Sriracha sauce (or your favorite hot sauce) (you can omit this if you don't want the extra spice)
Salt, to taste

In a bowl, mix together the salmon and the lemon juice. Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator for 4 hours minimum. (This allows the citric acid of the lemons to "cook" the fish by changing it's chemical and physical properties and allows it to have the same look and texture of fish that has been cooked with heat.)

After you take the fish out of the refrigerator, add all your other ingredients, put it back in the refrigerator and let it sit for about 30 minutes for the flavors to mesh together. Serve cold and enjoy!

Thai Peanut Cabbage Slaw

There is nothing better on warm days than a refreshing, cold salad to eat for a meal. Since this has been a pretty hot week in Southern California, this was the perfect answer for a meal to "beat the heat." It's light, refreshing and actually healthy! When summer gets into full swing, I intend to make this as a dish I can sit out by the pool with and eat to my hearts content. :)
Recipe Adapted From:

Dressing Ingredients:
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored & chopped
1 ½ Tbsp soy sauce
1 ½ tsp honey
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter 
1 Tbsp water
¼ tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Slaw Ingredients:
5 cups shredded cabbage (or one 16-oz bag cole slaw mix)
3/4 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 green onions, thinly sliced 
3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp chopped fresh Italian Parsley
 1/2 cup salted cocktail peanuts, chopped 

Mix dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor until it's completely pureed. It should have a consistency similar to apple sauce. 
In large bowl, toss together all the slaw ingredients and pour the dressing over the top. Stir thoroughly to coat the slaw with the dressing. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend together. 
 * Add extra peanuts right as you serve the salad as the ones that were on it might be a little less crunchy after it sits awhile. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Crispy Double Chocolate Chip Caramel Cookies

Menopause is bringing out the creative baker in me! Believe me when I say, this is the ONLY good thing it's doing. I mean, what else can you do besides bake at 3:00 in the morning, when you have insomnia, you are waking up sweating from night sweats and you are having hot flashes? I wasn't even sure I would need the oven to cook these. At any given moment during a hot flash, I could just hold them up to my forehead and trust me.....they would cook in no time at all.
When I woke up and decided to bake, I started  rummaging through my pantry to see what I had on hand and how I could create a new and tasty cookie. These have a bit of crunch from the Rice Krispies, ooey gooey caramel and lots of white and semi sweet  chocolate. Sounds good...right?
It was! All the staff and students at school today loved them. The  students sure didn't like it though, when I had to wake them from their sugar comas and tell them to get back to work ;)

3 cups semi sweet chocolate chips, divided
2 2/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies
6 oz white chocolate, chopped (or 1 cup white chocolate chips)
20 Kraft caramels, unwrapped and sliced into 5 slices each

Heat oven to 375°
Melt 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips in a double boiler or a heavy saucepan over low heat. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir together and set aside. 

Mix together: butter, brown sugar, sugar and vanilla and eggs, until blended. 
Mix in melted chocolate. Slowly mix in flour mixture. 
Stir in Rice Krispies,1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, white chocolate and sliced Kraft caramels. 

Bake for 9 minutes and remove from oven. Let cool on the cookie sheet for 4 minutes. Remove  to cooling rack to continue cooling. (If the cookies seem to be getting stuck to the cookie sheet, use a sharp knife to loosen them. Sometimes, the caramel sticks to the cookie sheet).

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sauteed Kale with Lemon and Parmesan Cheese

Lately I seem to be on a kale kick. I have been making so many different kinds of kale chips. I've added kale to my salads more than usual lately also. There is so much nutrition packed into this stuff. One cup of kale contains 34 calories, 6.7g of total carbohydrates and 1.3g of dietary fiber.So today at the grocery store I picked myself up a few bunches of it and started thinking of a new and fresh way to make it alongside our seafood tonight for dinner. This could quite possibly be one of my favorite ways to eat it!

1 bunch Kale
2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 small onion, sliced
1/2 small lemon, juiced
olive oil
Salt/Pepper to taste
3 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese

Wash the kale and cut the leaves from the main stem. Throw out the stem and tear the leaves into strips or smaller portions. Place the cut leaves into a large skillet. Cut the garlic into extremely thin slices. Add those to the kale in the skillet. Cut the onion into slices. Add those to the kale mixture. Squeeze lemon juice all over the kale. Drizzle olive oil over the kale mixture. (You can use as much or as little as you like.) Season with salt and pepper and turn the fire onto med-high. Cook until the kale really begins to cook down and then add Parmesan Cheese. Stir and continue to cook until kale is cooked all the way down and is tender. By now your onions should be soft but still somewhat firm. If they aren't then continue to cook for just a a couple more minutes. Serve warm!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Parmesan, Lemon and Herb Mashed Potatoes

I was thinking of changing the name of this post to "A bowl full of hearty goodness." Seriously, this was like a bowl of everything I love to eat. I mean, who doesn't like potatoes with cheese? The sad part is that potatoes are not on my anti inflammatory diet I am on right now, so I had to watch my hubby eat this, while I drooled at the table. Ok, so I didn't actually drool, but trust me when I say that there were a few times I was tempted to say "hey...look at that over there" and when he turned his head, I would reach my grubby little fingers over, stick them in his potatoes and quickly rid myself of the evidence by eating it off my fingers. I showed self restraint though and only tried one tiny forkful. Oh was wonderful!
Recipe Adapted From:

2 red potatoes (you can substitute regular potatoes if you would like)
1/8 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 lemon, zested
1 Tbsp green onion, chopped
1/8 cup fresh shredded parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp butter, melted
*Shredded parmesan cheese for the top of the potatoes

Heat oven to 400°.
 In a saucepan, cover potatoes with water. Bring to a boil and cook until softened, about 25-40 minutes depending on the size of your potatoes.
Drain the water and place the potatoes onto a flat surface. (I used my cutting board)
Using a fork. "smash" each potato down somewhat. (This step makes it easier for the mixer to do it's job)
Place them into your mixer. Add the olive oil, salt, garlic, parsley, lemon zest, green onion, parmesan cheese and butter. Mix until thoroughly combined.
Place into a ramekin or a small dish that can go into your oven and sprinkle as much Parmesan cheese on the top as you would like.
Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until Parmesan is melted and golden. 
* If you would like yours to be less thick, you can add a little bit of milk into your mixer until you reach the desired consistency. I wanted mine a little thicker than normal mashed potatoes!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Black Pepper Chicken and Veggies

This morning I went to the local farmers market. Wow, I can't wait to go back again. I found so many wonderful veggies at such great prices. That is one thing I love about Southern California... the fact that our weather permits farming and gardening at almost any time of  year! I walked up and down the aisles in complete awe of all the fresh fruits and veggies. For those of you that live in So Cal, you know that it's next to impossible to find fresh okra. Well guess what? I found some! None of that mushy frozen stuff...YUK!
By the time I was done shopping, I had a box that weighed more than I did to haul to my car full of fresh goodies. Ok so it didn't weigh as much as me, but clearly I had gone crazy shopping! I found fresh Cherimoya, and boy oh boy if you have never tried this fruit, you should! It's amazing.It's almost like eating yogurt in fruit form. I can't wait until the next one is ripe enough to eat.
So when I came home and decided what to make for dinner, I just knew I had to make use of some of these wonderful veggies. I wish I could say that I had made the black pepper chicken also, but I found it already seasoned at Sprouts Market. Oh boy I'm glad I did, I think it's great and I will definitely be buying it again. I didn't want to serve the chicken plain, so I got to work, chopping up some of my new beautiful produce. I came up with a very healthy, very tasty meal that the hubby and I loved!

2 Black Pepper Chicken Breasts, (Purchased at Sprouts Market)
5 asparagus spears, cut into bite size pieces
5 okra, sliced into bite sized rounds
1/2 med onion,, dice
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red pepper, sliced into bite size strips
1 zucchini, sliced into bite size pieces
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 fresh jalapeno, chopped
Olive Oil

Sesame oil
Soy Sauce
Salt/Pepper to taste

Cut chicken into bite size pieces. In a large skillet, place the chicken and all the vegetables. Drizzle olive oil, sesame oil and soy sauce over the top. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the chicken is cooked through and the veggies are firm but tender.
* This would be wonderful served over a bed of rice!