For a Brownie Fix

I actually had people over for dinner this past weekend. This is big for me! But it’s nice to live in an apartment where I don’t mind having friends over again! I made my old standby, Beef Gyros (which I have apparently never shared on this blog?! Need to fix that but in the meantime, here’s the original recipe), but I tried something new for dessert. Healthy (ish) brownies! Hungry Girl never lets me down. These are so good. Nice and moist and using the muffin tin means they come out perfectly proportioned. I sent most of the batch home with my friends so I wouldn’t eat them all. Which turned out to be a good call because my cat is driving me to stress eating. Figment is having a rough patch again so please send lots of good thoughts to my little guy and make these brownies ASAP.

Brownies

[I meant to take a picture but they were gone before I did…so here’s the photo from Hungry Girl]

Ingredients

  • 1 box moist-style devil’s food cake mix (15.25 to 18.25 oz.) [NOTE: I couldn’t find a cake mix with this title so I used a Moist Triple Chocolate Cake mix and it came out fine.]
  • One 15-oz. can pure pumpkin

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with foil baking cups, or spray it with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix cake mix with pumpkin until completely smooth and uniform. (Batter will be thick.)
  3. Evenly distribute batter into the cups of the muffin pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out mostly clean, about 20 minutes

Something Different

IMG_0539I love chicken. But I get sick of it. There are only so many things you can do with it before you want something different. Something about summer also says “seafood” to me. Or maybe it was just all the Red Lobster commercials on the Hallmark Channel over the weekend. So, I went digging through my crab cake recipes. A lot of my “healthy” crab cake recipes called for frying. While tasty, it’s so messy (and not really healthy usually either). I always feel the need to scour my kitchen after I fry anything. And also spray Febreeze everywhere. So, I was happy that HG did not let me down.

This recipe was so easy and quick and tasty. I tried a sauce from a different recipe which is good but I think I’ll stick with some dijonnaise for dipping sauce in the future. I added a pile of lettuce and found it to be a very tasty and filling dinner; perfectly light for a summer’s night!

Crab Cakes (original recipe from Hungry Girl; tweaked a bit)
Serving: 1 cake (recipe makes 4)

Ingredients for cakes
1/2 cup plain panko breadcrumbs
1 1/2 tsp. finely chopped parsley (or 1 tsp dry)
Dash each salt and black pepper
8 oz. (about 1 cup) canned lump crabmeat, drained [NOTE: Publix only sold 6 oz. cans and that was plenty of crab for me!]
2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
2 tbsp. finely chopped celery
1 tsp. chopped garlic
2 tbsp. reduced-fat cream cheese
3 tbsp. egg whites or fat-free liquid egg substitute
1 tbsp. light mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp. Dijonnaise (or another creamy mild Dijon mustard)
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. light whipped butter or light buttery spread

Ingredients for sauce
1 cup plain nonfat, Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp lemon juice (fresh if possible – juice of one lemon)
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill (or 1 tsp dry)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium-large bowl, combine breadcrumbs, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Add crabmeat, onion, celery, and garlic. Mix until uniform.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir cream cheese until smooth. Add egg whites/substitute, mayo, Dijonnaise, lemon juice, and butter. Whisk until smooth and uniform.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, fold cream cheese mixture into crabmeat mixture.
  5. Evenly form mixture into 4 balls, and place on the baking sheet, evenly spaced. Flatten each one into a patty about 1-inch thick.
  6. Bake for 8 minutes. While baking, mix the sauce ingredients until smooth.
  7. Carefully flip patties. Bake until firm, lightly browned, and cooked through, about 8 more minutes.

 

A Tasty Summer Dish

It isn’t often I make a dish to eat hot and decide I like it better cold. However, this pesto pasta salad with tomatoes and mozzarella chilled with some grilled chicken? I find it a delicious summer dinner! It’s also the first time I made pesto on my own (memo to me for future: your blender has a food processor attachment) which mostly went pretty well.

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I only skipped the Romano cheese from the original recipe as I prefer a touch more mozzarella. I also could not find yellow cherry tomatoes at Publix so I bought an organic grape tomato medley pint and tossed in some regular grape tomatoes I had leftover in the fridge from last week’s meal. Delightful!

Ingredients

8 oz. uncooked whole-grain farfalle
2 cups fresh basil leaves
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup tomato medley, halved (I used the orange and yellow in the mix)
3 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3/4 cup), divided

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. Place pasta in a large bowl.
  2. Combine basil and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) in the bowl of a food processor; process until smooth.
  3. Add basil mixture, tomatoes, and 5 oz. mozzarella to pasta; toss to combine.
  4. Top with remaining 5 ounces mozzarella to serve.
  5. You can serve hot the first night or chill the mixture once at room temperature to serve at a later time.

 

Getting Back to Cooking

Woohoo! I cooked a meal for the week this past weekend! It’s magical to be getting myself back on a schedule. And now I plan to (hopefully) bring a cat home this weekend and probably go off it again but let’s hope I can stick with it. I even made it to the gym yesterday guys. And did everything on my to-do list. AND managed to watch an episode of Bill Nye, read three chapters in my fun book and write a blog post. All that really means I’ll probably be a slug the rest of the week but hey, Monday was productive!

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A lovely summer meal

This recipe, Chicken Shwarma in the Slow Cooker, is tasty and not really super healthy to be honest. BUT, I estimate at least 5-6 servings from it so I think once it all spreads out, it’s not super terrible. I use whole wheat pitas too which must could for something right? This came together really well. I hadn’t used frozen meat like this before but found it made life alot easier in the long run. I also took the original post’s suggestion and serve this with grapes and it’s revolutionized dinner sides for me. I love the sweet with the salty savoriness of the shwarma and the cool cucumber sauce. I put a few dashes of mint in the cucumber sauce to for a little extra coolness. I am a fan. I think I also just love a good Greek dish in the summer. It matches well!

Ingredients

6 Tbs. lemon juice
6 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. curry powder
2 dashes cayenne pepper
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2.5 lbs. boneless chicken thighs, strips or straight thighs [Tyson frozen is what I used]
8 oz Greek style yogurt
1 small cucumber, chopped finely
Mint, to taste
whole wheat pita bread
tomatoes, chopped

Directions

  1. Stir lemon juice, olive oil, salt, curry, cayenne pepper and garlic together in a small bowl.
  2. Place chicken in slow cooker. [Side Note: I had used this sort of flash frozen meat before, you need to rinse this meat off before using which I did not know until I read the bag.]
  3. Pour olive oil mixture over the top, stirring to coat the chicken well.
  4. Cook on high for 5-6 hours or low for 7-8 hours.
  5. Stir cucumber and yogurt together, adding a few dashes of mint to the mixture. [Side Note 2: I put this together about an hour before the chicken was done to let the ingredients set a bit with each other. I think it helps. I could also be delusional.]
  6. Serve chicken in pita bread, topped with yogurt sauce and tomatoes. I used grapes for a side and it’s brilliant!

The original post and recipe is at Eat at Home Cooks.

Working on a Re-Boot

So, to say I got off to a lazy start for 2017 is somewhat of an understatement. I have fallen off the wagon across the board (with eating right, working out, reading, staying organized, you name it). However, an upcoming move is forcing me to at least get myself organized. Getting myself back onto a workout schedule is proving more difficult but two upcoming 5Ks will mean at least have something to hold me accountable. Eating right is hit or miss at the moment and I was hoping for good things this weekend because I was finally going to try out my new spiralizer. Bonus, the recipe was delicious. Not so cool is it only made two servings and it was a lot of work for those two servings.

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See? Veggie City and so good just…not enough for the week.

Once I figured out how the spiralizer worked (and only destroyed a half of a zucchini to get there), it was a lot of fun but not particularly easy to get even enough for two portions. Another downfall for this was the amount of dishes generated and major con, the spiralizer and its various parts are not dishwasher friendly. And I really loathe washing dishes by hand.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, these portions are huge and filling but now I’m stuck trying to figure out dinner for the rest of the week. If a recipe can’t get me to at least Thursday, it’s not doing it’s job in my opinion (and usually means my eating habits go off the rails for the rest of the week because I never feel like cooking after work). So, fix for the future: make a double batch of this next time. Because it IS delish! So many tasty vegetables and I think I mentioned the portion is huge and so filling. I didn’t feel hungry five seconds after eating (which has been happening a lot lately with recipes I’ve been trying). It may not look like anything but a mess but I recommend this. I am a fan of the zucchini noodles; now just to figure out how to make enough to last a week.

Z’paghetti Primavera [Clever name; it’s one of HG’s recipes]

Prep: 15 minutes [I don’t know what planet they are from; there is a lot of chopping involved with this one; I was at least 45 minutes in prep and that is not including figuring out how to use my spiralizer…]

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:
1 lb. zucchini
3/4 cup thinly sliced onion (1 medium sized yellow onion)
3/4 cup thinly sliced bell pepper (1 large; I used green but yellow might be good here for some color contrasts in the final product)
3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
3/4 cup chopped broccoli
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (I quartered grape tomatoes)
2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. chopped garlic
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. each salt and black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Using a spiral vegetable slicer, cut zucchini into spaghetti-like noodles.
  2. Bring an extra-large skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium-high heat. Cook and stir zucchini until hot and slightly softened, about 3 minutes.
  3. Transfer zucchini to a strainer, and thoroughly drain excess liquid.
  4. Remove skillet from heat. Re-spray, and bring to medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, broccoli, and 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook for 4 minutes, or until veggies are tender and water has evaporated.
  5. Add drained zucchini and all remaining ingredients except Parm. Cook and stir until entire dish is hot and garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese. Serve topped with remaining 2 tbsp. cheese.

BBQ Chicken without a Grill

I am still grill-less. I even still have the money my parents gave me to buy one. My backyard is apparently the host of a constant mosquito convention so I do not spend any time out on my patio so getting a grill was never really a viable option. Fingers crossed for the next place maybe. In any case, sometimes you just really want some tasty BBQ chicken. So, when I had a recent craving for it, I turned to my go-to site for recipes. Hungry Girl did not let me down. This was tasty and quite filling with lots of tasty BBQ goodness. I also love a good foil packet recipe and a recipe that is a single serving all on its own.

Ingredients
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 small-medium yellow onion, chopped
5 ounces raw boneless skinless chicken breast, pounded a bit to thin it out
Dash each salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons BBQ sauce with 45 calories or less per 2-tablespoon serving (I used the Publix Original)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay a large piece of heavy-duty foil on a baking sheet, and spray with nonstick spray.
  2. Place veggies on the center of the foil. Top with chicken, and sprinkle with seasonings. Drizzle with sauce.
  3. Cover with another large piece of foil. Fold together and seal all four edges of the foil pieces, forming a well-sealed packet.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and veggies have softened.
  5. Cut packet to release steam before opening entirely.

A new spaghetti sauce

Some weeks just require something quick, easy and tasty. Those are generally the weeks I make spaghetti. I am always hunting for new sauces to try; ones from scratch and ones, like the one I’m about to share, that use a jarred sauce as its base. This trial, two weeks ago now, was good but I actually think I would leave out the meat next time (shocker for me; I do love meat) and add in more vegetables. I’m thinking some mushrooms and fresh tomatoes would make this sing. I’ll let you know how it goes next time I try it!

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Added bonus: big portions!

Spaghetti with Vegetable and Meat Sauce
Originally from Budget Bytes

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil
½ lb. lean ground beef (I used ground sirloin as that was the leanest I could find)
1 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 zucchini (about ½ lb.)
2 carrots
½ tsp basil
½ tsp oregano
¼ tsp salt
Freshly cracked pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional – I was out but I think this would make the sauce zing a bit more so I’ll try it next time!)
24 oz. jar pasta sauce (I used Prego Classic)
12 oz. whole wheat thin spaghetti

Directions

  1. Add the olive oil and ground beef to a large skillet. Brown the ground sirloin over medium heat until cooked through.
  2. While the beef is browning, finely dice the onion and mince the garlic. Once the beef has cooked through, add the onion and garlic to the skillet and continue to sauté until the onion is soft and transparent.
  3. While the onion and garlic are sautéing, shred the zucchini and carrots using a large-holed cheese grater [Note: I like my spaghetti sauce chunky so I diced these rather than shred.]. You should have about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of each once prepared.
  4. Add the zucchini and carrots to the skillet along with the basil, oregano, some freshly cracked pepper, salt, and a pinch of red pepper. Continue to sauté until the vegetables are tender (about 7-10 minutes).
  5. Add the pasta sauce and heat through. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions, then drain. Return the drained spaghetti to the pot with the heat turned off. Add one cup of the prepared sauce to the pasta and stir to coat. Divide the pasta into serving bowls and top with additional sauce. [Note: I missed this final instruction and so added the whole jar to the mixture and then heated through. I’m not sure if there is a big difference but I did find that much sauce in the mixture made it a trifle runny so I would divide it out next time to see if that would help.]