September 27, 2010

Falling Into Basil

Now that fall is here (and I've officially introduced Bruce to the world-wide-web,) I'm trying to figure out what to do with what remains of him as the weather begins to change. Today we can start with basil, because, well... that's how I'm feeling and as we have previously established I have ADD.

Our basil plant is still quite large and has plenty of crisp, green, and basilicious leaves left for harvesting. Here is a recipe I adapted from that I found to be delicious. Now, there were a few reviews that stated the recipe was to "planty" and/or "herby," so disclaimer:  I would like to note that if you don't like basil, don't make this dish,  dumb assidiot, silly person. Clearly with 3 cups of basil, it's the star ingredient... and yes, it is an herb.

What you'll need:
  • 1 9oz package of fresh fettuccine 
  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup half and half 
  • 3 tablespoons of roasted pine nuts
  • 3 tbsp fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
1. Cook fettuccine according to package directions. (Omit salt and oil if possible.)
2. Combine additional ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth.
3. Combine fettuccine and sauce. Heat over low flame on stove top if necessary.

Tips, Tricks, and Mishaps:
  • I used fat free half and half. It didn't make a bit of a difference to me! The sauce was still creamy and delicious.
  • Because I used fat free half and half I added a very small amount of extra virgin olive oil to the sauce mixture for additional flavor. 
Without any alterations this recipe has 3 servings each weighing in at 374 calories each.  Weight Watchers Points - 8. 

Happy fall ya'll!

Neglect Blog Much?

So clearly, although I have good intentions, I have been neglecting my writing for quite a few days weeks. This is not intentional, so to those of you who check in loyally (or are just bored at work) I apologize. I love food and I truly love writing! (And not just because the writing involves food... although...) Time has gotten away from me over the past few weeks and we've had a lot going on over here. I'm sure several of these apology posts will follow in the future, however, this is just apology #1 - so let's move forward. Forgive and forget? Great, thank you.

Foodie Love!

September 13, 2010

Not Your Average Latte

Fall is coming, in fact it is just around the corner. I truly can hardly wait for all of the fun that comes with using my oven again regularly! While I'm certain I'll talk plenty about the deliciousness that is fall food, today's post has to be dedicated entirely to the sin that is purchasing a $5.00 cup of coffee; specifically the Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks.  

I call it it a sin because I drink a rather ridiculous amount of black coffee, no cream, no sugar. For me to spend such a large amount of money on one single cup of coffee is absolutely ridiculous. If  I weren't to make my own each day I would break the bank trying to support another addiction habit. With all of that being said there is something so incredibly fall-like about the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Clearly it's not just a latte! It's slightly milky, with clear hints of pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg with just enough warm coffee flavor for you to remember what you are actually enjoying. The first sip cast me into a tailgating, UGG boot, and stuffed pepper frenzy. (Yikes, okay Sybil.) All I wanted to do in that moment was see my breath and inhale the smell of campfires and crunchy leaves. I realize that it's still summer, however with that slight taste of Halloween lingering in the back of my mouth and mind I can hardly wait for the next opportunity to throw my money away at the individual in the green apron and beg like I really want to for my next Pumpkin Spice Latte. Thank you Starbucks.

Happy Sipping!

September 10, 2010

September 7, 2010

Cheater Chicken Cordon Bleu (Just for Two!)

What you'll need:
  • 2 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (10-12 oz total)
  • 1/4 tsp of ground black pepper (fresh if you have it)
  • 1/8 tsp of salt
  • 3 tbsp Swiss cheese (shredded)
  • 1 tbsp reduced fat cream cheese 
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat breadcrumbs 
  • 1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp of extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tbsp chopped deli ham (1/2 oz) 
1. Preheat oven to 400°
2. In one bowl combine Swiss cheese and cream cheese
3. In another bowl combine 1/8 tsp of pepper, breadcrumbs, parsley, and 1 tsp of olive oil
4. Coat chicken with 1/8 tsp of salt and remaining 1/8 tsp of pepper 
5. Heat remaining 1 tsp of olive oil in a medium, ovenproof, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until browned on both sides, (about 2 minutes per side.) Remove from heat.
6. Move chicken to center of the pan, spread with cheese mixture, top with ham, and finally top with the breadcrumb mixture.
7. Bake chicken until the center is no longer pink and a digital thermometer reads 165° (5-7 minutes)

Tips, Tricks, and Mishaps:
  • When using frozen chicken breasts dethaw them properly for the best results. I put mine in a plastic Ziplock bag and left them in the fridge in some chicken broth for several hours until they were tender.  Using a microwave tends to dry out meat and particularly chicken in my experience. Give it time to mellow on its own! I promise it will be worth it. 
  • I used panko instead of whole wheat breadcrumbs as I didn't have any. (Oops.) It didn't make a bit of difference to me. Don't be afraid to make your own breadcrumbs either - that's part of the fun, just more time consuming. 
  • I left out the extra-virgin olive oil in the breadcrumb mixture, I completely forgot. Just to make it a little more healthy. It didn't make one bit of a difference.
  • When shredding your own Swiss cheese, put it in the freezer for awhile beforehand. Swiss is a soft cheese and this little trick makes it much easier and less likely to break.
  • I do not have a nonstick skillet that is oven capable. I simply sprayed a baking pan with some nonstick spray and transferred the chicken after the browning was complete.
  • As in many cases, I found the cooking time to be really off with this recipe. It always depends on chicken thickness,  proper oven temperature, etc. The best and only advice I can give is: Use a digital thermometer often. For best results don't cook the chicken much over 165° If you are following the thermometer directions, there is just no reason to dry out your chicken by overcooking it! If you find the top of the chicken browning too quickly in the oven, cover it with foil until the inside temperature reaches it's destination. Also, the photo above was taken after the browning but before the baking, everything will much more golden when complete.
I always struggle with finding recipes for two people that are healthy as well as delicious. This is definitely one. With just 280 calories per serving it's hard to go wrong. (Otherwise known as getting super-huge.) Not to mention, it's quick and easy to make. Good luck, and happy cooking! 

September 6, 2010

For Love of JalapeƱos

    Stuffed with cheese. Wrapped in bacon.

Grilled to perfection.

September 2, 2010

Mini Caprese Skewers

My sister-in-law served this fabulous snack at a party she was hosting and it has quickly become one of my favorite  easy to make appetizers! (It also just so happens to be one of my favorite photos of something I've actually made.) 

What you'll need... 
  • cherry tomatoes 
  • mozzarella balls 
  • fresh basil leaves
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • toothpicks 
Directions: Wash the tomatoes and basil leaves. Once the basil is dry, cut the leaves length-wise (around 1 cm.)  Insert a toothpick through the end of a cherry tomato -  thread the basil - then insert the toothpick through a mozzarella ball.  Once you have filled all of the toothpicks, drizzle them with olive oil.  Salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

September 1, 2010

Who in the hell is Bruce?

In our first summer as a married and co-habitating couple my husband and I decided to build a garden. We certainly are making an effort at this whole domestic thing if nothing else. Bruce The Garden is approximately 16 feet x 2 feet, so he's not very large but certainly large enough for two people. (And of course one chocolate lab mix who enjoys munching on "salads" when he's left alone outside.) For those of you who chose social work or related fields, much like myself, due to math skills that resemble a fifth grader's, essentially it's very long, and not very wide -- it's just right. Thank you Goldilocks.

When I began to plant sometime at the beginning of May or thereabouts, I realized that I didn't read any of the seed packages prior to actually starting to physically plant the garden, why would I do that? I truly thought this whole garden concept was going to be a disappointment right way, as the recommendation on every package was to begin by planting the seeds indoors until they began to sprout. Crap. So in order to "compensate" for this mishap I decide to dig the holes as recommended and dump the vast majority of each package in. For those of you experienced gardeners, you are probably thinking, "Well wow, didn't you have vegetables on top of one and other?" Yep, sure did.

Surprisingly even with my ADD distracting me from reading directions and causing me to dump several seeds in one hole, (yes let's blame the ADD,) our garden turned out no worse off than expected. Our tomato plants, (Side note: at the time of purchase I assumed that the "Goliath" variety simply meant "big tomato,") turned out to be taller than my hips producing enough tomatoes for three large batches of pasta sauce from scratch, and contributed to many snacks and sandwiches for much of the summer. Our cucumbers which were the first to bloom, took over and we had approximately 20 during their "time to shine." We haven't tried any of our sweet peppers yet. Apparently when you plant vegetables from seed in May the chances of them blooming at the average time are slim to none. We are still working towards successful onions as well as carrots, so far we don't have much hope for the carrots but fingers crossed we'll see before the first frost. There has been a huge success with the hot peppers. While unfortunately they are stacked on top of one and other, they have truly thrived and we even discovered an additional variety last week. What type you ask? We have no idea, but we are going to add them to salsa to find out! We have a pumpkin plant that is truly taking over our backyard at this point, however, a photo of that will come later. At the end of the garden we have a small section for herbs. The basil and cilantro turned out fabulously. The parsley will serve as a topping for a chicken dish I'm experimenting with next week and that is probably all it will be good for as it has remained small however, I've come to terms with that.

Chives... now chives are a different topic. I planted them from seed, (of course) and when the didn't bloom with the rest of the herbs, I dumped more seeds in the area, why not?  A small amount began to grow and I really couldn't resist picking a few for baked potatoes one evening. They smelled delicious, however, didn't feel or look quite like the chives my parents grow at their house. Regardless, we ate them. A few weeks later, I went to pick another batch. They were taller and more thick at this point so when I brought them in the kitchen and washed them I noticed something... these weren't chives, but grass that had sprouted along with two very small chives! Epic fail. I fed myself and my husband grass on potatoes and almost did it twice. I suppose now when he tells everyone I feed him rabbit food he won't be lying. I'm clearly no gardeness, (hey it's my blog I can make up words,) however am learning as I go and can't wait to share more details about little Bruce soon!