Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Texas caviar

This post is all thanks to my BFF's mother Paula!  Paula B, not to be confused with Paula D. Contrary to Paula D's dishes, this dish fits my definition of healthy. 
It's kind of like a new take on pico de gallo with so many beans and veggies that you can almost make a full balanced meal out of it! I ate it with Tostitos baked scoop chips, which provide the perfect way to get all the flavors of this awesome mixture in one simple bite!
3/4 C red wine vinegar
1/2 C vegetable oil
2/3 C sugar
1 T water
1 tsp. pepper
2 cans white corn
2 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
2 cans black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 red bell pepper, seeded, white pith removed, and cut into small dice
1 yellow pepper
1 orange pepper
1/2 cup chopped carrots
Chopped green chilies (1 small can)
4 gloves minced garlic
1 1/2 cup small dice white onion
1 1/2 C chopped celery
Fresh jalapeƱo pepper (if you like spicy)

1. Combine Brine ingredients in small saucepan, then cool.
2. All canned food is rinsed and drained You can marinate first three with brine overnight if you want them to really soak up the wonderful vinegar-y flavor.
3. This recipe makes a lot, so if you aren't serving an army (or a very hungry Jen), you may want to half it.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Thai coconut-lime shrimp

I made this dish for my shrimp-lover brother's birthday dinner!
I used the following (for 3 servings):
-3/4 lb shrimp (peeled and de-veined)
-1/2 cup coconut milk (I used the light kind)
-1/2 cup broth (I used veggie, but chicken broth would work too)
-1/2 cup chopped onion
-1/2 cup diced tomato, juice pre-drained
-2 tbsp cilantro
-1 tbsp minced ginger root
-1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 tsp curry powder
-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- juice from 1 lime
-barley or rice to go with it
After I peeled all the shrimp, I put the onions in an extra large pan and sauteed them for a few minutes over medium heat. Then I added the tomatoes, coconut milk, broth, garlic, ginger, and spices. I sauteed the mushrooms in a separate pan since they release a lot of juice and I wasn't sure it would blend well with my mixture.
After about 10 minutes to cooking the sauce over medium heat to reduce the juice, I added my shrimp and stirred them around over medium for 4 minutes, until they were pink.
Then I added the mushrooms.
Followed by the lime juice.
And added cilantro for me and Justin (the brother's a cilantro hater).
And put it all over barley (for me) and white rice (for the boys)!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Lemon shrimp orzo

This was a very refreshing summer dinner!
And I made it in just 15 minutes.
With these simple ingredients (for 2 servings):
-1/2 cup dry orzo (plus water and salt for cooking)
-1/2 lb peeled, de-veined shrimp
-1 bunch of asparagus spears broken at natural break and chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-juice of 1 lemon
-2 tbsp vegetable broth (I sautee in veggie broth instead of oil to save calories)
-2 tbsp fat free feta cheese
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 tbsp thyme (if you don't have thyme, basil would be delish in its place!)
Start by boiling up water and adding the orzo to it with some salt.
While that's cooking, sautee asparagus (you can use oil instead of broth if you want even richer flavor, but I'm a big fan of the sautee-ing with broth method to reduce fat/calories).
Add the lemon juice..
Followed by the peeled shrimp.. And stir it all around over medium heat for several minutes so the shrimp turn pink.
After 9 minutes of boiling, the orzo should be done. So drain out the excess water, then add the shrimp/asparagus to your orzo pot.
Stir in the red pepper flakes and feta... And you're done!
It's safe to say I'll be putting this recipe on repeat :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Blue Bayou

Over the weekend, we dined with pirates.
Disneyland pirates. At the Blue Bayou.
Where it looks like the above inside the restaurant.
Even when it's like this outside the restaurant.
As a result, my food photos are a little pitiful. But it was very good... exceptionally good as far as theme park food goes.
It started with fresh sourdough rolls and sweet potato biscuits.
Followed by a really hearty gumbo.. full of chicken, seafood and sausage with cajun dirty rice on top.
Followed by balsamic-marinated portobellos over israeli couscous with peppers, all topped with garlic spinach (for me).
And blackened salmon with citrus herb sauce over creamy corn risotto for Justin.
Something about eating amongst wisteria, lanterns, and chirping grasshoppers, crickets and frogs is all very relaxing (even if it's all fake)!
And that is all. Have a zipadeedoodah day!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Chickpea burgers

I created a random chickpea veggie burger recipe yesterday in order to use up a bunch of spare ingredients from the fridge! These are kinda falafel-ish and very flavorful.
Here's what I used (this made 5 patties):
-1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
-1/2 cup dry red lentils (which turned into about 1 full cup cooked)
-1/4 cup cilantro
-1/2 green bell pepper, diced
-1/2 onion, diced
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1/2 cup baby carrots
-1/4 cup oat flour (any type of flour is fine)
-1/2 tsp hot sauce (I used Cholula lime)
-1 tsp cumin
-1 tsp chili powder
-1 tsp salt
I threw the beans, veggies and cilantro in the food processor first (while I boiled the lentils).
Then I added the spices and flour.
Then the lentils (I tried to get all excess liquid out of them and let them cool before adding, so the burger blend wouldn't be too mushy).
Gave it a spin.
Added some extra hot sauce, because I love me some spice.
And once it got too a nice thick n' chunky consistency, I was ready to form patties.
I grilled them over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes per side. (Note that if you'd prefer them baked all the way through, you could throw them in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes instead of grilling them... totally up to you). I like mine nice and crisp on the outside, so grilled in some coconut oil spray worked perfectly..
And I bunned them up with condiments and salad!

Thursday, May 16, 2013


I pretty much lived on paella when I studied abroad in Spain during college. I found that it was one of very few Spanish dishes that didn't normally have cheese and wasn't fried. For the record, my favorite type of paella is seafood, but I had some chicken I needed to use up last night so I made a chicken/veggie version. This was my first attempt at homemade paella, and it went well!
Since I don't have a legit paella pan, I used a dutch oven. I think one of my frying pans is oven-safe, but I wasn't willing to risk it, and the dutch oven worked fabulously. Here are the ingredients I used:
-2 chicken breasts, cut up into small pieces
-1 can artichoke hearts
-1/2 cup diced tomato
-1/2 cup diced onion
-3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1 cup arborio rice
-1 plus 1/2 cup vegetable stock
-1/2 cup dry white wine
-1 bay leaf
-approx 1/4 tsp saffron strands (the key ingredient!)
-S&P, to taste
First I pre-heated the "main" oven to 350, then put the dutch oven over medium-high heat and sauteed the pepps, onions and garlic with about 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper.
Then I added the chopped chicken breast and kept stirring to cook it up slightly (it cooks up the rest of the way in the oven).
Added diced tomato and kept stirring over medium-high heat.
Added the artichoke hearts. (I drained the can before adding them).
Stirred a little more (with heat still on).
Then added the cup of rice and stirred it around for a few minutes.
Finally I added the white wine and veggie stock, plus the saffron (which in my mind is what enables me to call this dish "paella"). Saffron isn't cheap, but it is fairly reasonably priced at Trader Joe's. I almost dropped this little sucker when taking it out of the cupboard... that would have been a big mistake.
The saffron gave it a nice yellow color (plus the aroma that paella is famous for).
Finally I added a bay leaf to the whole thing, then popped the dutch oven in the 350 degree oven for about 13 minutes (when the rice was fully cooked).
Here it is after about 13 minutes in the oven:
Yum! Making this again with seafood SOON!