Tackling seafood in the kitchen

I am always apprehensive to take on seafood in my kitchen. One, because I haven’t much experience cooking with it and two, living in an apartment, the smell is a bit of a deterrent as well. But I really like a lot of seafood (I’ve successfully made crab cakes before)and it’s one of my goals this year to try to get brave and cook more seafood at home. So, this weekend I tackled shrimp.

Shrimp was on sale at Publix which is why it was the one I decided to try this weekend. The guy at the seafood counter enjoyed trying to help me figure out what I needed (he was very patient with me since I didn’t have a clue what I needed really). I bought it deveined but not peeled so I did have to take the tails off and peel them all before cooking. It was my favorite task I’ve done in the kitchen but it wasn’t awful and went better than I expected actually.

What actually failed is I tried to use frozen zucchini noodles for this recipe and I didn’t have them thawed enough which caused some issues. In the future, I’ll cook the noodles as the package notes and then integrate into the recipe. I think that would work fine and still saves me from the spiralizer (which isn’t hard to use but is a pain in the butt to clean afterward). This recipe had a bit more of a kick than I expected but it’s still tasty and the shrimp cooked up so easily. I was impressed by how quickly they turn that shrimp pink! While I don’t think I’ll be hanging onto this recipe, I have got over the fear of shrimp in the kitchen so I have some other recipes I hope to try this year!

[no picture this week as 1) I forgot to take one and 2) Mine did not look as good as the site I got the recipe at so go there and see their pretty dish!]

Zucchini Pasta with Shrimp & Tomatoes (original recipe here)
Servings: 6 (which…I disagree with. Mine came out to more like 4)

Ingredients
3 medium zucchini, remove most of the peeling (or zucchini noodles already made)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice (I used the kind in a bottle – it was fine)
1 cup halved grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
1 pound raw shrimp (thawed if frozen), peeled and deveined

Directions

  1. To make pasta, attach zucchini, one at a time, to a vegetable spiralizer. Use the smaller holes for spaghetti.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp and cook until opaque and pink, 2-3 minutes. Place shrimp on a plate and cover.
  3. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté 1 minute. Add remaining olive oil, zucchini pasta, salt, black pepper, red pepper, and lemon juice, and tomatoes, toss to combine. Continue cooking until pasta is tender, about 5 – 7 minutes.
  4. Place shrimp on top of pasta, cover skillet and remove from heat. Allow to set for 1 minute, ensuring shrimp is hot.
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Getting a healthy(ish) Cheeseburger Fix

I adore cheeseburgers. It’s one of those dishes that I am always in the mood for, no matter what. I will never say no to getting a cheeseburger. It may be a bit of a downfall though when trying to eat healthier. So, I have collected LOTS of “healthy” cheeseburger recipes over the years. Most are just deconstructed salads than never really satisfy a craving for a big old burger. But, I tried a new recipe out last week that did a pretty good job finally!

First of all, I love a dish that comes portion controlled out of the gate. I am hit or miss about measuring out portions as well as I should be these days. I am trying to get back into my good habits but it’s not going well. So, this recipe immediately wins because it uses a handy muffin tin to portion out the correct amounts for me! I also like that the serving for this is two “muffins” so basically you get two cheeseburger sliders for dinner. I also liked the meat mixture to create the “burgers” – adding the mustard into the meat mixture really adds a nice little kick and then the ketchup and pickle on top make this an excellent cheeseburger substitute. It also comes together really easily with a fairly small amount of chopping for once. This one went onto the keeper pile for sure!

Cheeseburger Mini Loaves

Mine aren’t very neat but they were tasty!

Cheeseburger Mini Loaves (original recipe here)
Makes 6 servings (2 loaves per serving)

Ingredients
1 lb. raw extra-lean ground beef (4% fat or less)
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup (about 2 large) egg whites or fat-free liquid egg substitute
3 tbsp. ketchup
2 tsp. yellow mustard
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray (use a paper towel to make sure the spray is spread all over the inside of the cups).
  2. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix all ingredients except cheese. Evenly fill muffin pan, and smooth out the tops.
  3. Bake until firm with lightly browned edges, about 35 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake until melted, about 3 minutes.
  5. Optional: Serve with a dollop of ketchup or mustard and a dill pickle chip on top

Not hitting the spot (but it’s me, not the recipe)

There is nothing wrong with this recipe really. Other than it really should have told me to “half-moon” cut all the vegetables, and not just the zucchini, it’s very cool looking and easy to make. Lots of chopping but let’s face it, all recipes have lots of chopping. But, it’s just not hitting the spot for me this week. Also, and I find this very rarely, it’s a recipe that is not holding up as leftovers. I may make this again when I have company and it will all get eaten at one sitting as it was really best right out of the oven. I will also serve it with a side of spaghetti and sauce. It is a dish that needs some sauce to really make it sing.

Primavera Stuffed Chicken (original recipe on Delish.com)
4 servings

Primavera Stuffed Chicken

There is chicken there among the giant pieces of veggies (fixed the recipe to deal with that next time around!)

Ingredients:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
salt
ground black pepper
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 zucchini, halved and thinly sliced into half moons
3 medium tomatoes, halved and thinly sliced into half moons
1 yellow bell peppers, thinly sliced and halved
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced into half moons
1 c. shredded mozzarella

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400º. Place chicken on a cutting board and make 5 slits in each breast, being careful not to cut through completely. Place on sheet pan.
  2. Drizzle oil over chicken and season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
  3. Stuff each chicken breast with zucchini, tomato, bell pepper, and red onion.
  4. Sprinkle each chicken breast with mozzarella.
  5. Bake until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink, 25 minutes.
  6. Serve with a side of pasta and sauce.

I keep trying lettuce wraps…

Sigh. I love bread. I really do. In every form they have figured out how to make bread, I adore it. But it does not adore me so well so I try to be wary of eating bread with every meal. So, lettuce wraps. Everyone…I keep trying. I think there is some secret to using lettuce as a bread substitute I have not cracked yet. I think part of it is Publix fails in having the kind of lettuce everyone suggests to use (Bibb) so I usually am trying to make iceberg lettuce work and let’s be honest…it never works for much of anything. So, I’ll keep trying!

This recipe is tasty and if anyone has Philly cheesesteak cravings, this should satisfy it! The recipe lightens the recipe a lot and it was super simple, always a bonus. I also always enjoy when I get to have steak at home (with cheese!).

Philly Cheesesteak Lettuce Wrap

Requires a fork since I fail at lettuce wrapping

Philly Cheesesteak Lettuce Wraps (original recipe on SkinnyMs.)
Serves 4 (with two wraps a piece)

Ingredients
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound lean steak (I used the kind they sell for stir-frys as it’s already cut!)
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dry oregano leaves
1 yellow onion, sliced into strips
1 green bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 red bell pepper sliced into strips
8 large lettuce leaves (I used iceberg – it fails. Try for the original recipe recommendation: bibb lettuce)
1/2 cup shredded provolone cheese (I have some Italian mix as Publix didn’t have a straight provolone option to buy)

Directions

  1. In a large skillet over high heat, add the olive oil. Once hot, add the steak and season with salt and pepper. The oil will splatter so be on guard for that!
  2. Add the oregano, onion, and the green and red bell peppers. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until the beef is cooked through and the peppers and onions are soft.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the lettuce cups and sprinkle cheese on top. Serve hot so the cheese melts for you.

Curry Away

I have been reading. And cooking. And not sharing so I’m sorry. I am lining up a bunch of posts this evening to get me into June and hopefully, I can keep up on top of things better this summer (hope springs eternal).

I was ready to try another curry. This one is a bit more traditional than my first curry attempt but I liked it better. What I feel I might have done wrong though is this was a bit soupy (and didn’t match the picture on the blog where the recipe) but I found I liked the added bonus of the “soup” with the rice I served it with. This is still quite mild (because I am a wimp) so it was a nice step up from my first curry. It also made a ton! So 6 servings easily.

Coconut Curried Chicken over Brown Rice

A nice big portion is always a bonus in my book!

One-Pot Curried Coconut Chicken (original recipe on SkinnyMs.)
6 servings (1/6 of the recipe and served with 1 cup brown rice)

Ingredients
1.5 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized cubes
2 tablespoons curry powder (I used yellow curry powder, a red would make it spicier)
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 white onion, cut into strips
1 can lite coconut milk
1 red bell pepper, seeded, stemmed and cut into strips
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1.5 tablespoons honey

Directions

  1. In a large pan over medium-low heat, sauté the onion and bell pepper in olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring every so often until onions are softened and translucent, for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the spices, garlic and chicken pieces, and cook for about 3 minutes, until spices are fragrant and the chicken is a bit golden on the outside.
  3. Add the coconut milk and sweetener, stir, increase heat to high and bring almost to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
  4. Serve over brown rice.

One-Pot Asian Feast

I love one pot dinners. Fewer dishes. I adore cooking but I am a messy cook with so many dishes. The clean-up from me cooking is longer than cooking half the time. I have been slacking on the cooking front so it’s time to get back at it. Despite some scheduling setbacks this week, I finally got myself back into the kitchen to try a Sesame Chicken recipe. Some of my Asian recipes are hit or miss. Some are too watery; the sauce doesn’t thicken and ends up just kind of blah. This recipe is one of the better ones I’ve tried and I would recommend if you have a hankering for Chinese take-out with a healthier twist.

 

IMG_0388

The sauce thickened perfectly! I love a heartier sauce.

 

One-Pot Sesame Chicken [original recipe]
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch strips
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into thin 1 inch ribbons
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/4 cup green onion, sliced

Directions

  1. Heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Once hot add the chicken and carrot. Cook until the chicken is firm and cooked through. Drain off any excess liquid.
  2. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients except sesame seeds and green onion. Whisk until smooth and pour over the cooked chicken. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute, or until thick and chicken is coated.
  3. Stir in the sesame seeds. Remove from heat and top with green onion.
  4. Serve with brown rice.

 

Mac and Cheese with a Zing

We skipped spring around Tallahassee and seemed to go right into summer. The weather forecast assures me we’ll be reverting back to more seasonal weather come tomorrow but due to this heat wave, cooking has not been high on my list. In trying to ease myself back into my usual schedule, I choose a quick and easy recipe that’s a healthy take on an old favorite. This Mexican Mac and Cheese recipe is quick and easy to make. However, it’s really more of a side dish than a main entree. I’ve been pairing it with side salads and small portions of chicken to feel like I ate a good meal for dinner. It is also a Weight Watchers recipe I found online so it’s on the healthier side of things – bonus!

Mexican Mac and Cheese

Low-fat Mexican Mac and Cheese
Makes 6-7 servings

Ingredients:
8 oz. uncooked elbow macaroni
5 oz. light processed cheese (NOTE: the recipe called for low fat or light Velveeta cheese which doesn’t seem to exist in Tallahassee. I ended up using 2% Milek Velveeta as it had the best nutritional stats)
1 tsp taco seasoning (NOTE: add more for more of a kick!)
1/2 cup salsa

Directions:

  1. Cook the macaroni per usual until done
  2. While the noodles are cooking, cube the cheese
  3. Once the noodles are done, drain and return to the pot
  4. Add the cubed cheese and taco seasoning to the pot. Stir well until the cheese has melted
  5. When melted, stir in the salsa and serve!