Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Rice Pilaf

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Rice Pilaf may look boring and simple, but I promise it's only one of the two (the latter, in case you were wondering). Rice is normally cooked in water, so cooking it in chicken broth gives it an extra level of flavor that makes a huge difference in this dish. It makes the rice creamy and decadent. Adding onions, garlic and seasoned salt to the mix kicks it up a notch, too. I opt for seasoned salt since it's so incredibly flavorful, but feel free to use regular salt if you don't have any. It's a perfect side dish if you are in a hurry or can't think of anything else to make. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 2 cups long grain white rice
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. garlic, minced
  • Chicken stock
  • 2 tsp. of seasoned salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Figure out the amount of stock you will need by looking at the rice cooking instructions. Replace the amount of water called for with chicken stock. Heat chicken stock in a small saucepan and set aside.
While the stock is heating, add oil to a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until onions begin to soften. Add rice to the pan and cook until it begins to brown.
Add the hot stock to the rice mixture. Add salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Cover, reduce heat and cook according to rice cooking directions, (about 15-25 minutes), until rice is tender.
Fluff with a fork and serve immediately.
Source: SK Original

Monday, July 29, 2013

Spicy Shrimp Cakes with Corn and Avocado Salsa

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Cute little shrimp cakes are a healthy dinner option or a nice change-up for a classy appetizer. Packed with vegetables and protein, they're a nice switch from other patties you're more used to, such as hamburger, vegetable or salmon.

Make the patties a little larger if you are serving them as an entrée, or else cut the size in half to serve as hors d'oeuvres. Whatever you do, don't leave out the Corn and Avocado Salsa. I feel like it really made the dish. It's slightly spicy and incredibly fresh. We even ate some of the extra salsa with tortilla chips. Enjoy!


  • 1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp. reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), divided
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 ears of fresh corn, roasted and cut from the cob
  • 1 diced peeled avocado
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. seeded jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
To prepare cakes, cook shrimp (salted and peppered) in a skillet sprayed with Pam until pink, place shrimp in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until finely chopped. Set aside.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add bell pepper to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add garlic to pan; sauté for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Place bell pepper mixture in a large bowl. Add shrimp, green onions, and the next 6 ingredients (through egg), stirring well.

Stir in cilantro and 1/4 cup panko.

Divide shrimp mixture into 5 equal portions, shaping each portion into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Pat panko bread crumbs on each side of the cakes while holding in your hand. The mixture is too loose to dredge. Chill at least one hour.

Heat pan over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp. vegetable oil to pan. Add 3 cakes to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Be careful will flipping the cakes. They crumble easily. Press down on the cakes with the back of the spatula a couple of times before flipping. Remove from pan; cover and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining cakes.

To prepare salsa, combine corn and remaining ingredients, except for the avocado; stir gently. Add the avocado and toss very gently. Serve immediately with shrimp cakes.

Source: Adapted from Cooking Light

Friday, July 26, 2013

Portobello Mushroom Pizzas

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We've had a lot going on in our house the past few weeks. Between getting our deck redone, our AC breaking and waiting a week and a half to have it repaired, and cleaning out all the furniture/junk in the guest room to prepare the baby's nursery, the last thing I've wanted to do is make time-consuming meals or things that would take a long time in the oven.
Enter Portobello Mushroom Pizzas. Since we ate out quite a bit while our AC was broken, it's a nice change of pace to have something that is easy to make that's still healthy and satisfying. Portobello mushrooms replace carb-loaded crusts, while the tomato sauce and cheese add the familiarity we're all used to. Both Chris and I really enjoyed these, and the scale thanked us, too. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 3 large Portobello mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce, homemade or store bought
  • 1 cup Cheddar, Monterey Jack or Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
Preheat broiler in oven to 500 degrees F.

Scrape out the insides of each mushroom. Place on a baking sheet, bottom side up, and put under broiler for 1-2 minutes or until a little dried out. Flip the mushrooms over and cook another 1-2 minutes. Remove from oven.

Spread each mushroom with 1/2 cup marinara sauce. Top with cheese and a sprinkle of Italian seasoning.

Place under broiler for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Source: SK Original

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Power Sunrise Smoothies

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I'm back on a healthy kick! Since I was able to maintain my normal exercise regimen of running for the first 7 months of my pregnancy, I allowed myself to indulge in carbs and/or sweets whenever the mood hit. Well, in moderation, of course. Recently I've had to cut back on my routine and switch over to walking, swimming and prenatal pilates instead, so I decided to cut back on the carbs a little and revamp my diet. I want to keep as much baby weight off as possible!
Chris made these smoothies one evening for dessert, and we were both stuck. We've recently started making them before work for breakfast in place of our usual oatmeal or yogurt, and they keep us satisfied until lunchtime. Plus the natural sugar gives us an extra boost in the morning. This particular smoothie picture doesn't have spinach or kale in it, but I've been adding a handful to our morning batch for some extra nutrients. You can't even taste it, so it's a great option to add some extra vitamins to your diet (or to sneak some into your child's diet). Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, stems removed
  • 1 1/2 cups pineapple, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 handful spinach or kale (optional)
  • 2 cups ice

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Source: Chris Original

Monday, July 22, 2013

Tomato Soup Sloppy Joes

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It's Secret Recipe Club time again! This month I was assigned Heather's blog over at It's Yummy to My Tummy. Heather seems to have started her blog the same reason I did...just a way to keep track of all the recipes I make/come up with, and to have somewhere to direct someone when they ask where I got my recipe.
This recipe choice was a no-brainer. With all the various recipes I have made and the limitless of what I am willing to try out, Chris always chooses the same birthday dinner. Sloppy Joes and tater tots. Without fail. I figured if I could at least find a Sloppy Joe recipe that is homemade instead of stuffed in a can, I could live with it. And this recipe fits the bill. It tastes super similar to the canned version we usually buy, and is just as easy. Enjoy!
Printable Recipe

  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp. ketchup
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 (10.75 oz.) can condensed tomato soup
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Buns, for serving

In a large skillet, begin to brown ground beef and add onions and peppers.

Next, add in garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Once meat is thoroughly browned and vegetables are tender, drain any extra fat off your meat.

Return meat mixture to pan and add in Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, ketchup, and about 3/4 of the can of soup.

Stir until well combined and simmer for about 15 minutes until flavors are mingled together. Serve on a bun.

Source: Adapted from It's Yummy to My Tummy

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sugar Cookie Fruit Pizzas

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I made these bad boys for the Fourth of July since they looked festive and were extremely refreshing for an outdoor gathering. I made my favorite sugar cookie recipe, and then topped them with a cream cheese/whipped cream frosting, strawberries and blueberries, and a pineapple glaze. Pure perfection!
The glaze was my favorite part, so don't skimp out on that. Just be careful it doesn't run down the side so you don't run the risk of getting the cookies soggy. The cookies are soft and moist, and the cool topping makes them a refreshing summery treat. I'm sure these will go in a heartbeat at any gathering. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • Sugar Cookies
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups whipped topping
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
Prepare sugar cookies as directed. Set aside.

For glaze, in a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, pineapple juice, water and lemon juice until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Transfer to a small bowl; refrigerate until cooled but not set.

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth; fold in whipped topping. Spread over tops of cookies.

Arrange fruit on top of each cookie; drizzle with glaze. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until chilled.

Source: Topping adapted from Taste of Home

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Grilled Stuffed Tomatoes

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Looking for an easy side dish for when you have the grill going full blast this summer? Stuffed tomatoes are a healthy and quick option that go along with most BBQ feasts. We personally enjoyed these with a thick, juicy steak. It was nice to not have to turn the oven on in the house and to know we could rely solely on the grill to get our whole meal done. Swap out the cheese for whatever flavors you prefer and you've got yourself a tasty and low-calorie side dish. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat Cheddar or Monterey cheese, shredded
  • 2 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat grill to medium high heat.

Slices the tomatoes in half. Scoop out pulp and reserve in a small bowl. Chop bigger pieces of pulp and return to bowl.

Add Cheddar or Monterey cheese, garlic and parsley to pulp. Mix until combined. Use a spoon to remove excess liquid (I was able to remove 2-3 spoonfuls). Add Parmesan cheese and mix well.

Scoop 1/4 of the pulp mixture into each tomato half.

Put tomatoes on the top rack of a grill. Cook until cheese begins to melt, about 5-10 minutes. Move tomatoes to the lower rack and cook until tomatoes begin to soften and become lightly charred, about 5 minutes longer. Serve immediately.

Source: SK Original

Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer Corn Dip

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I've been hearing about Frito Corn Salad for a while, and the thought of making it always tempted me. Based on the different versions I've heard about, I decided to go a different direction and make a dip instead of a side dish.
The result was refreshing and crisp. The corn kernels pop in your mouth, and it is ideal since there is no heating or baking involved. Perfect for these hot summer days. I recommend getting it extra, extra chilled before serving. Then the flavors have a chance to mold and blend together. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 can yellow corn kernels with peppers, drained
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Fritos corn chips, for serving
Mix corn kernels, mayonnaise, scallions and cheese in a small bowl. Cover and allow to refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.

Serve with Fritos corn chips.

Source: Adapted from multiple sources

Friday, July 12, 2013

Lighter Chicken, Mushroom and Caramelized Onion White Pizza

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I'm not afraid to hide the fact that I will happily indulge in a hot slice of Papa John's or Domino's pizza every once in a while. After a long day of work, sometimes the last thing on my mind is making dinner. In those rare instances, a to-your-door-in-thirty-minutes pizza will suffice. But homemade pizza is still my ultimate love.
I like experimenting with different types of pizza. Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza is one of my favorites, but this past time I decided to try something different and wanted to experiment with a white sauce. Simmering milk and Parmesan cheese makes a delectable coating for the crust. Topped with caramelized onions, shredded chicken and mushrooms, this pizza immediately shot to the top of my "favorites" list. Enjoy!
Printable Recipe

  • 1 lb. refrigerated fresh pizza dough
  • 1 tbsp. yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1 red onion, sliced thin
  • 2 tsp. garlic, minced 
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 3/4 cup reduced-fat milk
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp. yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded boneless, skinless roasted chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp. scallions, chopped
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley                
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Sprinkle cornmeal over a baking sheet. Roll out the pizza dough so it is the same size as the baking sheet. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and set aside.

Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan. Add sliced onion and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until onions are softened and caramelized. Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt remaining 1 tbsp. butter in another saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add flour, salt and pepper. Stir constantly with a whisk for 1 minute. Continue stirring while gradually adding the milk. Whisk until sauce begins to thicken, about 3 minutes. Turn off heat and add Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes. Stir until cheese melts.

Spread the cheese sauce over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Top with chicken, mushrooms and caramelized onions. Bake on bottom oven rack for 17 minutes or until crust is golden. Sprinkle with oregano, scallions and parsley. Serve.

Source: SK Original

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Asian Sesame Asparagus

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Here's another easy and light recipe that is a perfect side dish to most Asian-inspired main courses. Sesame oil is one of my favorite oils since it's so rich in flavor. The sauce can be tossed over other vegetables such as broccoli or a mixed medley to switch it up a bit. I know I always have problems coming up with tasty side dishes, so when I come across one I really enjoy I tend to stick to it and modify it a little here and there for variety. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 lb. asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. garlic, minced
In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup water until begins to boil. Add the asparagus and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes and garlic in a small bowl. Pour over asparagus and toss to coat. 

Chill until ready to serve (they are even pretty good chilled!).

Source: SK Original

Monday, July 8, 2013

Firecracker Chicken

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Chris is a fan of hot sauce. It's a well-known fact. The hotter and spicier a meal can get, the more he favors it. After being around him so long, I can now tolerate a little heat. When we had first started dating, hot sauce was never found in my refrigerator and was never put in any of my food. He is slowly converting me, but I still can't tolerate the amount he can stand. It's amazing to witness, actually.
This chicken gets its name from the amount of hot sauce that is used in the sauce. It adds a bit of heat, but after mixing the hot sauce with brown sugar and baking it for an hour, the sauce instantly becomes a perfect balance of sweet and spicy. There is still a kick from the hot sauce, but it's nothing to run away from. The chicken stays crispy while baking and the sauce adds a wonderful flavor. This is easily one of my favorite chicken recipes. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken tenders (about 2 lbs.)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • Rice, for serving
For the sauce:
  • 1/3 cup hot sauce
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cut your chicken into 1-inch pieces while the oil heats. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place the cornstarch in a gallon-sized ziploc bag, and add the chicken and seal, tossing to coat.  

Whisk the eggs together in a shallow bowl. Dip the coated chicken pieces into the whisked eggs, and place them in the hot skillet. Cook the chicken pieces for 1-2 minutes on each side, cooking until just browned. Place the chicken in a single layer in a 9x13 inch casserole dish.

Mix the hot sauce, brown sugar, water, vinegar and salt in a medium bowl and then pour over the chicken in the baking dish. Mix around to coat chicken.

Bake for one hour, turning the chicken once to coat with the sauce.

Serve over hot, white rice.

Source: Adapted from Kitchen Meets Girl

Friday, July 5, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday yesterday! If you overindulged a little too much like I did, here's an easy and light meal that won't leave you feeling bloated and stuffed. Ground chicken is marinated with hot sauce and topped with blue cheese crumbles, celery pieces and light Ranch dressing for a healthy and satisfying dinner. Since lettuce leaves are used in place of tortillas, they instantly become low-carb and low-calorie. Enjoy!
P.S. Don't forget to enter to win a free one-year subscription to Southern Living Magazine!
Printable Recipe

  • 1.5 lbs. ground chicken
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce
  • Lettuce leaves, for serving
  • Celery, chopped, for serving
  • Carrot shavings, for serving
  • Blue cheese, crumbled, for serving
  • Light ranch dressing, for serving

In a large skillet, cook the chicken, onion and garlic until chicken is cooked through, about 7-10 minutes. Drain off fat if necessary.

Add meat mixture back to the skillet and add hot sauce. Cook over medium-low heat until hot sauce is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

Place 2-3 tbsp. of the chicken mixture into the center of a lettuce leaf. Top with celery, carrots, blue cheese crumbles and/or ranch dressing. Enjoy!

Source: SK Original

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

S'mores Pops

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I get my recipe inspiration from a lot of places, but one of the main places is Pinterest. There I can find so many creative and inventive ideas, and a lot of times those ideas just stick in my head. So when I'm feeling creative I go to the kitchen and try to replicate what I saw.
That's what happened with these S'mores Pops. I remember seeing something similar, and when I was craving a chocolate dessert I knew they were the thing to make. They're perfect for the Fourth of July since they're simple to make, favored by both adults and kids, and are reminiscent of a favorite childhood treat for all. Enjoy and Happy Fourth of July everyone!

P.S. Don't forget to enter to win a free one-year subscription to Southern Living Magazine!

Printable Recipe

  • 8 honey graham crackers, divided in half
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 2 cups semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
  • 8 lollipop sticks
  • Sprinkles, for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

On a baking sheet, place 8 of the graham cracker halves. Top each half with as many mini marshmallows that will fit in an even layer.
Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 3-5 minutes or until marshmallows puff and begin to brown.

Remove from oven and stick a lollipop stick in the center of each cracker, making sure the marshmallow secures it into place. Immediately top with the other graham cracker half and press down lightly. Allow to cool completely so the lollipop stick sets.

Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir. Continue heating in 30 second increments, stirring after each interval, until chocolate is completely melted.

Line a separate baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Dip each graham cracker in the melted chocolate, using a spoon to help coat all sides. Transfer the chocolate-dipped graham cracker to the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Top with sprinkles. Repeat with remaining pops.

Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes or until set. Store in an airtight container.

Source: SK Original

Monday, July 1, 2013

Southern Living Magazine GIVEAWAY!!

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Hey guys! I'm thrilled to announce that one of my recipes was PUBLISHED in Southern Living Magazine!! My Firecracker Grilled Salmon will be featured in July's magazine as a part of a special they did on blogger's grilling recipes. As a special treat for one of my lucky readers, I am giving away a free one-year subscription to Southern Living Magazine!
Winner is Delicia Asencio. Congratulations!!

Giveaway is open until July 9th at 11:00pm EST. Winner will be announced July 10th. Contest open to US residents only. Winner will be drawn at random and contacted by email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. Good luck!!

Note: Southern Magazine graciously provided the free one-year magazine subscription for this giveaway. All opinions are my own.