April 06, 2014

Tropical Green Smoothie

Even though it's Spring and rain showers are in the forecast today it's okay to start fantasizing about summer and a dream vacation to Anguilla. Sigh. A girl can dream. This is my first time using spinach in a smoothie and I'm surprised that I couldn't even taste it since the fruit masks the flavor.

Spinach is bursting with antioxidants and disease-fighting phytonutrients. The pineapple and mango reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, boost your immune system, improve digestion, and protect your eyesight. These ingredients also add fiber which help keep you full.

This is such a healthy breakfast option and a perfect way to sneak a serving of veggies in first thing in the morning or after my workout like I did this morning... like being on a classy Spring Break. This smoothie is thick, cold, and a refreshing balanced meal.

Little Man entertained a sip but quickly stated his distaste for it. Oh well... more for me!

The best thing about smoothie recipes are how versatile they are and you can make numerous servings and freeze until ready to enjoy. You can substitute or omit any ingredients to suit your taste.

Adapted From: Averie Cooks
Makes 1 Serving

Stars of the Show:
  • 1 cup frozen spinach
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1 ripe banana, frozen is ideal
  • 1 cup milk - I used 2%. 
  • 1 tsp pure cane sugar
  • 1 small container Fage nonfat yogurt
  • 1 scoop protein powder - I used Tera's Whey Goat Whey Protein. 
And Action:

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately and freeze extra portions in a freezer safe container for up to 1 month (thaw before serving). 

March 28, 2014

Pasta Al Pomodoro

I tend to stay away from ordering pasta at restaurants. These so called chain-Italian restaurants can't get pasta right. It's such a disappointment especially when it's my cheat day of my "diet". Sigh.

Pasta al Pomodoro couldn't be easier to make. The key ingredient in this dish is tomatoes hence it's name, translating to "pasta with tomato". It's best to save making this one until the end of summer when tomatoes are at their best, however, for busy mama on a Spring/work/soccer practice night, a giant can of peeled tomatoes works just fine.

It's important to cook the pasta al dente (about a minute or two less than what is stated on the package) since the noodles will continue to cook once you toss the sauce with them.

Serve with garlic bread, (recipe to follow). Yummy!

Pasta al Pomodoro
Adapted from: Epicurious: Dinner Rush Summer/Fall 2013
Makes 4 Servings

Stars of the Show:
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28 oz) can peeled tomatoes
  • kosher salt
  • 12 oz bucatini or spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup parmesan or pecorino
And Action:

Puree olive oil, onion powder, garlic, red pepper flakes, peeled tomatoes, and salt in food processor. Pour into a sauce pot and heat over medium until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a large pot. Season with salt, add pasta, and cook stirring occasionally until 2 minutes before tender.

Drain pasta.

Combine pasta and sauce. Remove from heat and add the cheese. Enjoy!

Garlic Bread
Epicurious: Dinner Rush Summer/Fall 2013
Makes 4 to 6 Servings

Stars of the Show:
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • kosher salt
  • 1/2 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 loaf Italian bread - I used French bread.
  • 4 tbsp grated Parmesan
And Action:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mash garlic to a paste with 1/4 tsp salt.

Stir together butter, oil, and garlic paste in a bowl until well combined, stir in parsley.

Halve loaf horizontally and divide butter mixture between halves and spread it in an even layer. 

Divide cheese between halves and spread in an even layer.

Put halves, cheese side up, on a large baking sheet. Cover bread with a large piece of foil, tenting it slightly on the top and tucking it under the bread.

Bake 15 minutes.

Remove foil and turn oven to broil. Broil bread until golden, about 2 minutes. 

March 16, 2014

Peanut Butter Banana Oat Smoothie

Peanut Butter Banana Oat Smoothie
Makes 1 Serving

Stars of the Show:
  • 1/8 cup nonfat greek yogurt
  • 10 oz nonfat milk
  • 1 tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup oatmeal 
  • cinnamon, to taste
And Action:

Combine all ingredients in the blender until smooth. Enjoy!

February 25, 2014

Apple and Kiwi Green Juice with Ginger

Blend of green apples, kiwi and ginger. 

Makes 2 Servings

Stars of the Show:
  • 2 granny smith apples, cored, and sliced
  • 2 kiwis, peeled
  • small chunk of ginger
  • 1 lime or lemon
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1/2 cup parsley 
And Action:

Run all ingredients through the juicer and enjoy!

January 11, 2014

Crock Pot Whole Baked Chicken

Whole chickens used to turn me off. The whole pulling out their insides and plucking any stray feathers thing really grossed me out. My mama handled the cooking in our household growing up and I became spoiled. When I moved out and a craving for baked chicken hit I would grab a rotisserie chicken at the checkout line at the grocery store. But something was missing... the aroma that fills the house while the chicken bakes. It's part of what makes it taste so good.

This blog actually pushed me out of my comfort zone and I made my first baked whole chicken. Pulling the guts out and all. It wasn't until I started shopping at Whole Foods that I discovered whole chickens with the dirty work already done. Granted, there is still the rinsing of the bird and a few stray feathers to pluck but I don't have to stick my hand up in the cavity of the bird.

Santa brought me a 6 qt Crock Pot for Christmas, my first!, and the first recipe I came across was for this Crock Pot Whole Baked Chicken. The stars had aligned. Whole chickens were on sale at Whole Foods, this Crock Pot came into my life, and then I stumble on this recipe. Let me tell you... This recipe is EASY! The meat was falling off the bone. As of now, this is my go to method for cooking a whole chicken. I'm not intimidated anymore and I get what I want... a house filled with the aroma of baked chicken and it tastes so much better homemade. I paired the chicken with broccoli and brown rice. Yummy!!!

Stars of the Show:
  • 1 whole chicken (2-4 lbs)
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika 
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
And Action:

Wad up two pieces of foil and make them flat on top.

Place in 5 qt crock pot and pour 1/4 inch of water in the bottom. 

Rinse and dry the whole chicken. Make sure to clean the kitchen really well!

In a small bow combine the spices.

Rub onto the chicken.

Place chicken on top of foil balls.

Cook on high for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, switch to low and cook for 5 hours. Temperature should read 160 degrees then it's time to enjoy!

December 29, 2013

Lemon Almond Asparagus

Asparagus swimming in lemon butter... butter!... enough said!!!

Makes 8 Servings

Stars of the Show:
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
And Action:

Melt butter; stir in lemon juice. In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add asparagus in batches; cook 2-4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and place on a serving plate. Drizzle with butter mixture; top with almonds. Enjoy!

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
Calories: 78
Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 11 mg
Sodium: 36 mg
Carbohydrates: 4 g
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 2 g

December 28, 2013

Winter Caprese Salad

I came across this recipe for a Winter Caprese Salad while menu planning for our Christmas dinner. Not sure what makes this wintery but any recipe with grape tomatoes has my name all over it and I don't try to over analyze it. Being Italian, this was a great way to add a touch of home to our traditional ham dinner and for a flavor punched side dish... Wintery would be roasted tomatoes... ;)

I prepared this with the intent of serving it as a side dish but ended up forgetting about it in the refrigerator. Partly to blame was that this can be conveniently made ahead. Thankfully, while preparing this all I could think about was how delicious this would be tossed with pasta. This will make for an easy week night meal coming up.

Makes 4 Servings

Stars of the Show:
  • 1 (8 oz) container fresh mozzarella perlini (pearl sized balls)
  • 1 container grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup pesto - Original recipe calls for 1/2 cup but I think that was too much.
  • Splash of red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste
And Action:

Mix all ingredients together. Let the flavors meld for an hour at room temperature before serving. Serve on its own, topped on a bed of mixed greens, or tossed with pasta. 
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