Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tilaipa with Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, Capers, Garlic, and Lemon

We just had a ridiculously warm day here in Chicago (a record 60 degrees in January!) which had me ready for grillin season.  I've had my eye on this recipe for a little while, and while we made it in the oven and not the grill, it is perfect for a warm summer night of grillin out.  The flavors in this are light and crisp and mouthwatering and it is quite simple.  Bill said it was a perfect combination... he said especially with the broccoli (I just steamed some broccoli with lemon pepper for the side, but he mixed his in).  I agree with him, and actually might try even adding some artichokes next time because it seems like it would mix well with the flavors.

Tilaipa with Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, Capers, Garlic, and Lemon
From: Proud Italian Cook
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 12-15 min

2 Tilapia Fillets
10-15 cherry or grape tomatoes
handful kalamata olives, cut in half
handful of capers
Garlic, sliced thin
Olive oil
Smoked Paprika (or regular)
Parsley, basil (I used dried because I didn't have fresh)
Salt & Pepper

1. Line a shallow baking dish with tin foil and heat oven to 400 (Or heat grill).  Drizzle bottom with olive oil and place garlic on top.  Place Tilapia over top.

2. Season fish with salt and pepper, and a sprinkling of paprika.  Toss on some parsley and basil.  Then add tomatoes, kalamata olives, and a small handful of capers on top.

3. Scatter a few lemon slices around and squeeze some of the juice on top of everything. Drizzle with olive oil

4.  Place in oven and cook for 12-15 minutes. 

 As a side note... aren't my orange owl salt and pepper shakers absolutely adorable!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Cheddar Bacon Dip

This dip could not be easier.  I will warn you though, it is quite salty.  I happen to LOVE salt so it wasn't a problem for me, but consider yourself warned.  This would be great for a super bowl snack - you know, if your into that kind of thing. :)

Cheddar Bacon Dip
From: Plain Chicken
Prep time: 5 min
Refrigerate: 24 hrs.

16 oz sour cream
1 packet Ranch dressing mix
3 oz bacon bits (in the bag not jar)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


1. Mix together and refrigerate 24 hours.  Serve with tortilla chips, fritos, or veggies.  (I would suggest pulling it out of the fridge about 15 minutes before you want to serve it so it isn't has cold/thick)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mini Nutella Cookie Cups

Bill loves Nutella, I'm not a big fan.  It is too rich or something for me.  But since it isn't always about what I like to eat (shocking I know), I decided to find a couple of Nutella recipes on Pinterest to try sometime.  I had to bring dessert to our small group, so I thought these would be perfect, plus I hoped I wouldn't be left with a bunch.  Since I'm not a fan of Nutella, I'll have to go with what Bill and the group thought... they said they were very good!  We only had 3 leftover.  So if you like Nutella, you will like these!

Mini Nutella Cookie Cups
From: Daisy Chubb's
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 12 min

1 cup butter (softened)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tspn vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tspn baking soda
1/2 tspn salt
Jar of Nutella (I used a small jar and used the entire thing... in fact there were a few that didn't get any, so I would suggest a bit bigger jar, but you will likely have some left over with the big jar)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray mini muffin tin.

2. Cream butter and both sugars in a bowl until light, smooth and fluffy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla until fully incorporated.  Gradually add dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda) until all the flour is mixed in.

3. Roll dough into balls and pop them in the mini muffin tin and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown but not too dark around the edges.

4. When done, remove from oven and let sit for about 2 minutes.  Then make wells for the nutella with the bottom of a shot glass or a spoon.  Add a Tablespoon Nutella to each cup.  As it starts to warm from the heat, stir and make it smooth.

5. Let cool 15-20 minutes in a tin.  Remove from tin and let cool.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Homemade Fruit Roll Ups/Fruit Leather

I loved fruit roll ups as a kid, and still love fruit leather.  These are about halfway between a roll up and a fruit leather.  They turned out absolutely delicious and surprisingly stayed soft throughout the week. 

This recipe does require a bit of planning since it requires a long cook time (4-8 hrs) on a low heat in the oven.  My oven didn't get low enough (plus I'm convinced it runs 25 degrees hotter), so I left the door opened while it cooked.  I did run into a bit of a problem though when after about an hour in, I had to leave the house.  Not wanting to leave the oven while I wasn't home, I turned it off and shut the door.  Apparently even that was too hot because when I got home 3 hours later, it was done and the edges were burnt (see below).  While the burnt part did not taste good, once I cut it off, the rest of it was perfection.  So I guess, I just want to warn you to really watch it since every oven is a little different.

Notes: This made about one cookie sheet worth of fruit roll ups.  I did add a little sugar, probably 1/8 of a cup, but looking back, it might not have even needed it.  The original recipe said to strain it to get the seeds out, I left them in because i'm lazy and didn't mind having them in.   I also think this would be great with some other fruits... maybe mango, or raspberry.  I'm thinking you could probably use frozen berries if preferred.

Homemade Fruit Roll Ups/Fruit Leather
From: Georgia Pellegrini
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5-8 hours

Sugar - up to 1/4 cup(optional)

1. Cut up strawberries into small pieces and place in pot.

2. Add a squirt of lemon juice.  Then stew them mostly covered until they are soft and mushy.

3. Place plastic or parchment paper over a cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray or brush with olive oil.

4. Place in a blender or food process and puree.  Add sugar if desired (but not too much - it will sweeten up as it dries).

5. Pour mixture onto the covered tray and spread evenly to the edges.

6. Place in the oven on the at 140 degrees, or the lowest setting you have and leave door of the oven open for 5-8 hours.  It is done when it isn't sticky any longer.

7. Place on a cutting board and cut into strips with pizza cutter. Roll up in parchment paper (I tied them with some twine because they kept unrolling). Store in airtight container.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Southwest Chopped Chicken Salad

I've had my eye on this salad via pinterest for a while.  I decided to try to make it work for our lunches last week.  It turns out that it might be my new favorite salad!  It has a creamy but not overly heavy southwest dressing and lots of stuff other than lettuce - corns, black beans, avocado, what could be better!

My grocery store happened to be out of cilantro (I couldn't believe it either) so I made it with out cilantro and left the tortilla chips out as well to make it a touch healthier. This made about 3 days worth of lunches for Bill and I.   I thought it would be a pain to take at lunch, but it turned out so good that I made it again for us to eat this week!

Salad Fixings
Southwest Chopped Chicken Salad
From: Greens and Chocolate
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: None

2 cups shredded chicken
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can sweet yellow corn (or 1 cup frozen corn, thawed)
2 roma tomatoes, diced
4 green onions, sliced
1 head ice berg lettuce, washed and chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 ripe avocados, diced
1 cup crushed tortilla chips (optional)

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2/3 cup Greek yogurt (= two 5.3 oz containers)
1 Tbsp ranch seasoning
1 1/2 Tbsp taco seasoning

1. In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients together, excluding tortilla chips

2.  In a small bowl stir all dressing ingredients together.  Pour dressing over salad, starting with about half of the dressing.  Toss to combine then gradually add more dressing until it is dressed to your liking.  Top with tortilla chips (If desired)

My modification in prep for to go lunches: Mix together the chicken, corn, black beans, tomatoes, onion, pepper, and cilantro (if you have it) in a bowl and store it in the fridge.  I then had a small bowl of the dressing and store in fridge.  Each day, put fresh lettuce and some of the chicken mixture in a to go container, then added the avocado.  Bring some of the dressing in a separate container to add at the time.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Easy Pasta Carbonara

I saw a recipe from for Pasta Carbonara and wanted to try it, but decided to add a couple of my own things.  I used thick cut bacon, because that happened to be what I had, and  I added some red onion, garlic, and  peas (I only had canned, but I bet frozen would be even better).  It turned out really tasty and from start to finish it was less than 25 minutes.  I did cut the recipe in half since it was just the two of us, and that was the perfect amount.   

Easy Pasta Carbonara
Adapted from:
Prep Time: 10 min
Cooking Time: 10 min

1 lb angel hair pasta
2 cups fresh grated parmesan cheese
5 large eggs
1/2 lb lean bacon or 1/3 lb pancetta
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 cup canned or frozen peas
salt & pepper

1. Boil large pot of water for the pasta.

2. While water comes to a boil, heat a large skillet and cook bacon on medium.  But do not overcook bacon (it should NOT be crunchy/burnt).

3. When bacon is finished cooking use a slotted spoon and place on a plate.  Add onions to grease and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon to plate with bacon.  Discard bacon grease.

4. Break eggs into a large bowl and whisk until smooth.  Add grated cheese to eggs and mix until a paste.  Meanwhile, Cook Pasta until al dente.

5.  When Pasta is cooked, remove from water and drain.  Immediately add pasta to egg/cheese mixture and use tongs to rapidly toss, coating the pasta (don't worry about the raw egg, the hot pasta will cook it)

6.  Add the bacon and onions.  Add a teaspoon of bacon grease if needed (I didn't need it) to pasta and toss until a creamy sauce evenly coats the pasta.

7. Add peas and season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Crock Pot Minestrone Soup

When my mom came to visit she was just getting over being sick so I wanted to make her some soup, but wanted it to be ready when I got home because she would already be there and probably be hungry.  I've seen a lot of crock pot chili recipes, but wanted something lighter.  When I saw this recipe for Minestrone Soup, I knew it would be perfect.  I didn't have vegetable juice, but did have some tomato juice so I used that instead and I think it turned out pretty good! Not perfect, but considering I spent all of 15 minutes chopping and putting it together, I'd say it was a success!

Crock Pot Minestrone Soup
From: Smashed Peas and Carrots
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 6-8 hours

4 cups chicken broth
 1 1/2 cup vegetable juice (like V8)
14.5oz can diced tomatoes, undtrained
2 cups fresh spinach
1 cup chopped green onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 cups chopped potatoes
1 can cannellini beans
1 tsp dry parsley
salt and Peper
1/3 cup dry ditalini pasta or other small pasta noodle

1.  Prep all vegetables.  Place everything in crock pot except the pasta and stir well to combine.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-6.

2. Add Ditalini Pasta and stir well.  Cover and cook for an additional 20 minutes before serving.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas

Happy New Year!  I wanted to start out with a recipe that I fell in love with!
I know these pictures are horrible... I had started eating before thinking about taking a picture and then they were just too good to put down and figure out good lighting etc. for the picture.  So this is what you get.  But don't let the bad pictures fool you, these are so delicious and ridiculously easy.  I've made them several times since finding the recipe a few weeks ago and I know they will probably be at least in a once a month rotation at our house.

Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas
From: Real Mom Kitchen
Prep Time:  10 min
Cook Time: 20-25 min

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1 (15oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
1 medium onion
1 large bell pepper, sliced and seeded (I like some of green and red for color)
Flour Tortillas
Your choice of toppings: cheese, sour cream, guacamole

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place chicken strips in a greased 9x13 baking dish.

2. In a small bowl combine the oil, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, dried oregano and salt.

3. Drizzle the spice mixture over the chicken and stir to coat.

4. Next add the tomatoes, peppers, and onions to the dish and stir to combine.

5. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.  Serve on tortillas with desired toppings.


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