Monday, May 14, 2012

Shrimp and rice on the grill

Shrimp and rice on the grill

I love it when the weather is nice enough to cook on the grill! I never realized just how much cooking can actually be done outside instead of in the house. One of my family's absolute favorite things to eat is shrimp. My children are complete shrimp addicts. I swear Isabella could eat a pound all on her own. 

I just got the June issue of Food Network magazine in the mail the other day. I am *always* inspired by the recipes and ideas I see in there. One of my favorite things was a small insert that they had with ideas for foil packets on the grill. There were so many cool variations that are so easy and looked delicious. There were three or four recipes in there with shrimp but none of them fit what I wanted to do, so I just made up my own little recipe. Honestly, you could follow this same concept and use whatever meat, veggies and starch you want! I can't wait to create a bunch of different variations with this cooking method. 

  • 1lb raw peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 8oz boxes Zatarains New Orleans Style Yellow Rice
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
This has to be about the simplest thing I have ever made. Pre-heat the grill to medium-high heat. Toss all of the ingredients above in an aluminum disposable pan, stir and cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Place the pan directly on the grill and cook for 30 minutes.

Leave it alone. Don't try to look at it or check on it at all. Go do something fun for half an hour :)

When the 30 minutes is done you'll have a delicious little shrimp and rice dish ready to serve! The only problem I had with this meal was that there wasn't nearly enough for all of us after my shrimp lovin' kids were done with their massive assault on it. Next time I'll be doubling this!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I'm bacccckkkkk! Pork Chops, Smashed Potatoes and Zucchini!

Pork Chops, Smashed Potatoes and Zucchini

Did you miss me??!? I know, I's been close to a year since I've blogged anything. Life got crazy for a while and something needed to give. I decided that I needed to give up blogging for a while until things got more manageable in my life. I'm not promising daily blogging just yet, but I will promise that I won't be a total stranger anymore. 

I'm pretty sure that part of my inspiration to start blogging again was sparked by my recent decision to have Cody's Fresh Foods start delivering weekly fresh organic produce to our house! I know it makes me a giant dork, but to have mysterious fresh ingredients dropped off on my porch every Saturday morning is exciting to me!! It's like my own personal version of Chopped!!! I don't know what I will get from week to week, but I know that it will be fresh and delicious! I get to experiment and figure out new, interesting ways to use that weeks ingredients. 

Here's a sneak peek of what I had to work with this week:

This time of year is always difficult for me because Bryan works a lot, so the kids and I are usually on our own for dinner. It's hard to not fall into the easy trap of making chicken nuggets or mac n cheese for the kids and fixing myself something quick and easy. Maybe it's a good thing that I'm getting my butt back to blogging!!!!! It holds me accountable for making decent meals...

Today I realized that I had tons of possibilities for side dishes and absolutely nothing in the house for a main dish. Isabella had drama class, so I headed over to Roma's Food Imports to see what the butcher had that looked good. I picked up some pork chops and knew the rest would come together easily.

I was recently given the opportunity to try out Filippo Berio olive oil through my membership in the BzzAgent program. The joke was on them though, because I've been using this olive oil exclusively for YEARS. It's actually the only one I buy! I was MORE than happy to accept the bottle they sent me in the mail and share the coupons with my friends! I actually use olive oil daily in every meal that calls for oil, unless it specifically calls for vegetable oil, which is mostly when I'm baking.

There isn't too much in the way of a recipe for this meal, but I'll do my best to explain.

For the pork chops:
  • 4 center cut boneless pork chops
  • 1/2 of a red onion, sliced
  • small can mushrooms
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Filippo Berio olive oil
For the potatoes
  •  2 lbs small red potatoes 
  •  2 cloves smashed garlic
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (to add to the boiling water)
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • Filippo Berio olive oil for drizzling

 For the zucchini:

  • 4-5 small zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon Filippo Berio olive oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • salt & pepper to taste

For the pork chops you'll want to grab a large non stick skillet. Heat about 2 tablespoons of Fillipo Berio olive oil in the bottom and set your heat to medium-high. Liberally salt & pepper your pork chops and add them to the pan. You'll want to let them cook until they are browned on the first side, then flip and repeat for the second side. The first side took about 4-5 minutes for me. 

While the first side is browning up, bring a pot of water to a boil with about 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 2 smashed cloves of garlic (this will help flavor the potatoes). Once the water comes to a boil, add the baby potatoes with the skin on and cook until fork tender.

Once you flip them to the second side, slice up about half of a red onion and add it to the pan with the pork chops. I normally would use fresh mushrooms, but I didn't happen to have any on hand today. I keep canned mushrooms in my pantry for just this kind of situation, so I tossed in a small can of mushrooms as well. Reduce the heat once the second side is nice and golden brown. You'll want to leave it at around medium-low heat for the remainder of the cooking time. Start to finish, my pork chops took about 15 minutes. If you are unsure if they are done,  you should always use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. Pork chops are done when they reach 160 degrees.

Occasionally give the onions and mushrooms a stir, but just let it all hang out in there. It will be fine.

While your pork chops are finishing up, drain the potatoes. Drizzle a pan with some more Filippo Berio olive oil and place all the potatoes on the pan. Smash with a potato masher, the back of a fork, or you can even cut them if you prefer. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Drizzle the top of the potatoes with a little more olive oil and then sprinkle a small amount of fresh grated Parmesan cheese on top. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees while the rest of the meal comes together, or just until the cheese is melted. 

I always let my meat sit for a few minutes before cutting and serving to allow the juices to redistribute and prevents it from drying out.  I took the pork chops, onions and mushrooms out of the pan and onto a plate and then cooked the zucchini right in the same pan so it picked up all the great flavor from the pork. 

I gave it another small drizzle of olive oil and then tossed in 4-5 small sliced zucchini. Hit them with some salt, pepper and a clove of minced garlic. I like my zucchini to be golden brown, but not mushy. I cooked them on medium for about 4 minutes and they were perfect! Still had a little crispness to them, but were not hard.  

This meal came together quickly and was VERY good! 

I promise to not be a stranger anymore....

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Fruit Fusion Bread

This recipe was really just an experiment that worked out really well! Don't ya just love it when that happens? I had a bunch of fruit and decided to make some bread out of it! If I had to do it all over again, I don't think I would change a thing! Yummy!!!!!!!!!

Fruit Fusion Bread

  • 3 large bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup strawberries, diced
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 3/4 cup flour + 1 tablespoon flour to dust the fruit
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream the sugar and butter in a stand mixer until smooth.

Add the mashed banana, applesauce and vanilla, stir to combine.

With the motor running, add the eggs one at a time.

Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the banana mixture.

Cut up the fruit and stir in the lemon zest. Toss with 1 tablespoon of flour to prevent the fruit from sinking to the bottom during baking.

Gently fold the fruit into the mix and then pour into a greased bread pan.

Bake for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and the top is golden brown.

Cool completely on a wire rack before removing from the pan.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Balsamic Round Steak with Grilled Sweet Potatoes

I have to take a minute before I share this recipe with you to give a little shout out to BzzAgent. I have been signed up with them since 2005, and during that time I have had some really great opportunities to try some amazing products for free. You might be asking yourself "what's in it for them"? The answer is quite simply that they get the word of mouth advertising from happy people walking around telling all their friends about the products that they tried. I could give you the big long list of things that I've tried over the years, but I'll just highlight a few to give you an idea.

I've tried whitening strips for my teeth, chocolate, make up, coffee, sonicare toothbrushes, cleaning products, craft products.. etc

My latest package arrived at my door just a few days ago. I was super excited to take a peek and see what I got!

The folks at Lawry's were kind enough to send an apron, two full sized marinades, a full size sample of their seasoned salt, a big stack of coupons to share with my friends and a recipe booklet!

I decided that the perfect way to put their marinade to the test was with some beautiful round steaks. I picked the round steak because it is a nice lean piece of red meat (I need to make sure I keep those 18 pounds I lost off!). The marinade was definitely a great idea! Fantastic flavor and the steak was tender as could be!

Balsamic Round Steak with Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Place the steak in a shallow dish and cover with the marinade for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Slice the sweet potato, toss with the oil and sprinkle with the seasoning salt. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and starting to get a little crisp. Move the sweet potatoes to the grill to finish them off. Brush with the seasoning salt marinade and grill for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Preheat your grill and if you have a searing burner preheat that as well.

When the grill is ready, sear the steak for 2 minutes on each side. I have a side sear burner, so I started them there and moved them to the regular grill for the rest of the cooking time.

Finish the cooking process on a lower heat, about 350 degrees).

How long you cook your steak will depend on a few different factors. Which kind of steak you are using, how thick it is and how rare or well done you prefer your meat. I found a nice website that had some great recommendations for grilling times for steak. Check out their website HERE for some great grilling tips! This is a chart from their website that you might find helpful when trying to decide how long to cook your steak.

I still prefer to use a thermometer to ensure that I don't overcook my meat. You can pick them up pretty inexpensively and they are a must have in the kitchen.

This is the one that I have, you can pick it up on Amazon HERE.

A fantastic quick and delicious meal! Thanks to Lawry's!


If you are interested in becoming a BzzAgent visit their website HERE!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tropical Smoothie

I frequently just toss things in the blender to make smoothies, but I don't usually post them on the blog. My one year old is currently obsessed with just about any fruit concoction that I put in the blender, so I've been making more of them lately. I *really* liked this one and decided that I wanted to share it.

The first thing I want to mention is to never, ever throw away bananas that are getting brown. If you think that they are too mushy and are considering tossing them, don't! Unpeel them and put them in a ziplock bag and stick them in the freezer! They are absolutely perfect to use in a smoothie.

Tropical Smoothie
(makes 2 large smoothies)

  • 1 frozen banana (or fresh)
  • 3 cups watermelon, cubed
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, quartered
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 8 ice cubes
  • 3 scoops Edy's Limited Edition Coconut & Pineapple ice cream
Place ice on the bottom and then cover with the fruit. Top with the ice cream and pulse until combined.

(this stuff is amazing!)

I drank mine out on the deck while I watched Isabella play golf. She wanted to show off her newly acquired skills.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Roasted Vegetable Quinoa

I apologize for my absence over the last two days. I have not been feeling well and to be honest, blogging was the absolute last thing on my mind :(

This dish was an experiment. I had never made quinoa before and wanted to see what I could come up with off the top of my head. Quinoa is really like a cross between rice and couscous, in my opinion. I thought it was really good!!! You can use this in place of rice or pasta in any dish for a healthy twist.

I usually have a funny story to accompany my recipes. If you had any idea the kind of insanity that is happening in my house while I'm cooking, you would be shocked that I even blog. I can look back and laugh at this now, but when it happened it wasn't all that funny. The package of quinoa said that you need to rinse it under cold water before cooking. I knew that the quinoa was really small and I couldn't use my regular colander to strain it, so I grabbed a smaller strainer and was convinced that it was perfect to rinse the quinoa in. FAIL! The quinoa went right through the holes and all over the counter top making a giant mess. Don't make that same mistake! Put it in a bowl and then cover with water to rinse. You'll be sorry if you don't ;)

Roasted Vegetable Quinoa

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow squash, chopped
  • 1/2 of a red onion, roughly chopped
  • brussell sprouts, washed, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut in a large dice
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 14oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Rinse the quinoa in cold water and drain. Place the quinoa in a saucepan with the chicken stock and garlic, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until it has absorbed all of the liquid.

FYI - I was not aware it was pronounced keen-wa. I had always called it QUIN-OA. I felt super ridiculous when I realized how wrong I was...carry on.

Cut up all of the veggies and place them on a baking sheet. Toss with the olive oil. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt, pepper, and the Italian seasoning. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until the veggies are tender.

In a large skillet, add the can of diced tomatoes and the roasted veggies. Stir in the quinoa. Cook just until everything is warmed thoroughly. Add the parsley and Parmesan cheese.