Thai Peanut Wraps

My mom and I came across this recipe a few years back. I can’t remember exactly where it came from (maybe Rachel Ray?), but I’ve made it multiple times since, so the measurements became my own from what I can remember! Is it Thai? No idea. But that’s what they were called.

These Thai Peanut Wraps have a delicious, crunchy, cool cucumber and carrot salad is combined with the warm, spiced chicken, and peanut sauce. DELICIOUS. The flavors work together really well, and they’re quick to whip up! The leftovers are good straight out of the fridge.

Watching your carb intake? Skip the wrap and serve the chicken and cucumber salad over some mixed greens or your favorite lettuce. Drizzle with the peanut sauce. And trust me when I say that a little of the peanut sauce goes a long way!

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Thai Peanut Wraps
(Serves 4)

8-10 whole wheat, whole grain or other tortilla shells

For the Chicken:

3 chicken breasts, sliced
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
Salt and pepper

For the Cucumber Salad:

1/2 English cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, then cut into 1/4″ thick slices
1 1/2 c. shredded carrots
4 scallions, whites and greens, sliced
1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp. granulated sugar or honey
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
6 basil leaves, chopped
Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh mint, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Peanut Sauce:

1/2 c. peanut butter, softened in microwave if cold
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For the cucumber salad, add all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Season with salt to taste

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil. For the chicken, slice into strips about 1/2″ thick, then cut strips in half. Sprinkle with chili powder, cumin and a sprinkle of salt and black pepper. Put into the pan and cook until browned on all sides and cooked through about 8 minutes. If you’re unsure if the chicken is done, break a strip apart, if it’s not pink, then it’s done! Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, soy sauce, cayenne pepper, and rice wine vinegar. Stream in the olive oil while whisking.

On a plate, place a damp paper towel. Put 4 tortilla shells on it. Top with another damp paper towel. Heat for about 1 minute until the wraps are soft and pliable.

To serve, drizzle or spread a small spoonful of sauce onto a wrap. Top with chicken and then cucumber salad. Wrap it up and enjoy!

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Some Kind of Fusion Take Out

Happy Memorial Day! Have a mojito, kick back and enjoy your BBQ’s!

The recipe I have for you today was kind of a random experiment. I was wondering how I could make fake out Chinese food – you know the brown sauce chicken with uniformly chopped veggies? Well, it turned into something completely different, but amazingly delicious. I did use quite a bit of help from Trader Joe’s as far as ingredients go, and I’ll try my best to have substitutes listed. Like their Sweet Chili Sauce – I know they have similar sauces in the international aisle of regular grocery stores! You’ll probably have to hit up that aisle anyway for light coconut milk. So try to find a similar match! It looks kind of like duck sauce (with a kick).

I used light coconut milk, which gives the dish a nice subtle sweetness to offset the spicy chili sauce. It tastes nothing like Chinese take out, with the coconut milk it gives it a Thai flavor. Speaking of Thai – if you have Thai basil handy, feel free to chop some up and throw it in!

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Coconut Chili Turkey with Veggies
(Serves 4)

1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 medium yellow onion, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
1 c. carrots, chopped (about 3 carrots) into 1/2″ pieces
1 bell pepper (color of your choice), chopped into 1/2″ pieces
1 c. celery, chopped (about 3-4 stalks) into 1/2″ pieces
1 can light coconut milk
1/3 c. sweet chili sauce, from Trader Joe’s OR a similar sauce OR 1/3 c. duck sauce with 1/4 tsp. red pepper flake
2 tbsp. Trader Joe’s Soyaki Sauce OR 2 tbsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. grated ginger, and 1 clove minced garlic
1 tbsp. cornstarch
Salt and pepper to taste
Sesame seeds & scallions for garnish (optional)

In a large frying pan over medium heat, put in the ground turkey and veggies. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until the turkey is no longer pink and veggies start to become tender, about 15 minutes. Add in coconut milk, sweet chili sauce, and Soyaki sauce (or substitutes). Cook the mixture about 5 more minutes.

In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water until it’s dissolved. Pour into frying pan with all the other ingredients, stir well. Cook for about 10 minutes until the mixture is bubbling and becomes thick. Use salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over rice, rice noodles, or quinoa. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and sliced scallions for garnish.

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Delicious & Nutritious Salad: Perfect for a BBQ!

With Memorial Day weekend right around the corner, I wanted to give you all a PERFECT salad recipe that is absolutely delicious for a backyard BBQ. Black bean salad loaded with colorful veggies. Super easy. It can be easily doubled, tripled, etc. It’s so flavorful, packed with veggies and protein – it really could be a meal in itself!

This recipe is a real crowd pleaser. My mom and I have made this for countless occasions with many different mouths trying it. It’s always been a hit. It’s great for warm weather parties because there’s no mayo in it. This salad travels well and keeps for days. It can be eaten room temperature or right out of the fridge! It’s also good in the morning with some scrambled eggs.

For the veggies, you basically want to chop them to the size of the black beans, they can be a bit bigger, but you really want everything to be uniform so you don’t have large chunks of certain things. It helps pull the salad together 🙂

I hope you enjoy it! If you bring it to your Memorial Day picnic, I promise you will not be disappointed!

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Black Bean Salad
(Serves 6-8)

3 cans of black beans (organic, low sodium, whatever you prefer), rinsed and drained well
1 orange bell pepper, diced into 1/4″ pieces
1 pint of grape tomatoes, diced into halves or quarters depending on size
1 1/2 c. frozen or fresh corn off the cob
4 scallions, sliced (whites and greens!)
1 jalapeno, minced, seeds and ribs removed (optional)
2 limes, juiced (about 1/4-1/3 c. juice)
1/3 c. olive oil (or oil of your choice)
2 tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4-1/3 c. cilantro, chopped (optional, for garnish)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, chili powder, cumin and 2 teaspoons salt and 3/4 teaspoon black pepper. Pour in your beans, peppers, tomatoes, corn, jalapenos (if using) and scallions. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with cilantro, if desired. Serve!

Couldn’t be easier, right? 😉

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Featured Recipe!

Hi everyone! I had to share another quick post with you today because my White Chicken Chili that you all love so much is featured on The Gracious Pantry! Also, if you have forgotten, the chili is award-winning, so that means it has to be good!

I feel so honored because The Gracious Pantry is one of the first blogs I’ve ever stalked on a regular basis. It’s also one of the reasons I started my own food blog. Her chicken and dumplings recipe is one of my absolute favorites! The recipes she posts are all for clean eating. You wouldn’t even know these dishes are healthy, they’re that delicious! Want to know more? Check out her website.

Thanks for visiting!

PS- her brownie recipe is one of my favorites!

Mmmm…Steak?

No no. Not actual steak. Salisbury steak. And not even the way you think!

A couple of weeks ago I was in the mood for some hardcore comfort food. And I remembered Salisbury steaks lurking in the back of my mind. Now, it’s usually made with ground beef, beef stock, and mashed potatoes. Of course, I had to make it healthier.

Instead of ground beef, I used lean ground turkey. Instead of mashed potatoes, I made pureed cauliflower. What? A legitimate sub for mashed potatoes? Yes. I didn’t even tell my guinea pig that it was cauliflower. He thought it was mashed potatoes! Score one for me.

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I do have to say, I made this cauliflower puree twice. One time without any potato at all, and one time with 2 little red potatoes. I think it made a big difference having the little bit of potato to make it creamy. AND it’s only 2 little potatoes for 4 servings. So you don’t have to feel guilty about it since you’re only having 1/4 of a potato, really. But feel free to leave it out if you really don’t want it! Leaving the skins on the potatoes give it extra color and nutrition.

So for all of you watching your waistlines (and those not!), I think you will really enjoy this recipe. It’s a classic that you won’t feel guilty about eating later!

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to recoup from the weekend…Feeling better so far but today I’m making some of my Greek quinoa for a light lunch. YUM!

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Salisbury Steak with Cauliflower Puree
(Serves 4)

For the Salisbury Steak:

1 lb. lean ground turkey
2 tbsp. Worchestershire sauce (or soy sauce in a pinch)
1/3 c. breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs
1/2 small onion, grated
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

For the Sauce:

8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, sliced (plus the rest of the small onion)
1/2 c. white or red wine (whatever you have on hand)
2 c. low-sodium chicken stock
1 tbsp. Worchestershire sauce (or soy)
2 tbsp. whole-wheat or regular flour
Salt and pepper

For the Cauliflower Puree:

1 head of cauliflower, washed & cut into florets (or 4 c. precut/washed)
2 small red potatoes, scrubbed and cut in halves (optional)
6 sprigs thyme, removed from stems
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 c. nonfat milk (or milk of your choice)
1/2 c. reduced fat, shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large frying pan or dutch oven over medium-high heat with just a splash (about a tablespoon) of olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. The pan is hot enough when the olive oil looks wavy.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the Salisbury Steak ingredients. Mix until combine. Form into a disc in the bottom of the bowl and score the turkey with your hand to create 4 even portions. Put your patties in the heated pan. Cook until each side is browned, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Set aside on a plate and turn the heat down to medium.

Add your white or red wine to the pan, scraping up the brown bits (these give a great depth of flavor, especially when you’re not using beef to make these!). Add onions and mushrooms, cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Pour in 1 3/4 cup of your chicken broth and the Worchestershire sauce or soy sauce. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook until the chicken broth starts to bubble. Mix together your flour and the remaining stock in a small bowl. Whisk until there are no lumps. Pour into the frying pan with the mushrooms and onions. Stir well. Add your turkey patties and cook through, about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large microwave safe bowl, add all of the cauliflower ingredients, except the cheese and salt and pepper. Cook on high for 5 minutes, uncovered. Stir and then cook in 2 minute intervals until the cauliflower is pierced with a fork easily (about 9-10 minutes total). Spoon mixture into your blender or food processor. Blend until smooth, adding more milk if necessary. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into serving bowl and stir in cheese (if using). Pop back into microwave for another 1.5 minutes.

To serve, place a spoonful of cauliflower puree onto the center of your plate, lay the patty partially on the puree, and spoon over the sauce with mushrooms and onions. Or just serve them side by side!

Commence comfort.

;

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Getting Back on Track

Did anyone eat and drink as much as I did this weekend? No? Guess it was just in our household! It was my birthday this past Friday and I had visitors from Long Island – one of my best friends from college and her boyfriend. Whenever visitors come around do you find yourself eating a drinking more? Drinking including the BEST margaritas in the world? I will share the recipe eventually 🙂

First I’d like to let everyone know a few of the awesome home/kitchen/cooking related gifts I got because I’m excited about them. From my boyfriend a gift certificate to Home Depot (along with a part-shade plant) to start my shady garden on our balcony and a BB&B gift certificate to bulk up my kitchen supplies. Oh, and a Cooking for Friends cookbook from Williams-Sonoma I mentioned I wanted about 4 months ago! From my mom I got an herb garden she planted for me herself filled with my favorite herbs: basil, rosemary, cilantro and thyme 🙂

Also, I received an amazing little notebook from my friend from nursing school which includes some of her own favorite recipes, along with family member recipes (awesome, right?) A cookbook from my aunt which is one she bought when she first got married that has amazing classic desserts and things of the like. And I can’t forget about this sweeeet spoon holder from friends I met through Tim. Cooking + Owls = Love. (Did I ever mention I also have an owl apron?). People know me so well 🙂

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Enough about me rambling. The recipe I’d like to share with you today is a very nutritious and healthy pesto to go over your favorite whole grain pasta, along with some veggies. It’s delicious hot or cold. It’s good to eat when you’re trying to get back on track! Make a big batch to have to eat during the week. Feel free to add beans or chicken slices for some extra protein. Throw in whatever veggies you have on hand!

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Kale-Edamame Pesta Pasta with Green Veggies
(Serves 4-6)

1 lb. short pasta of your choosing
1 small zucchini, diced
10 asparagus stalks, chopped
2 c. washed, chopped kale (stems removed)
10-12 leaves basil
6 mint leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 c. shelled edamame, thawed
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c. Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. walnuts
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare pasta according to package directions in a large pot and cook to your desired doneness – I like al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, in a medium frying pan, splash a little olive oil in the pan. Throw in your zucchini and asparagus and any other veggies you like. Cook until just tender until starting to brown, about 10-12 minutes. Set aside.

When the pasta is done, reserve 1 cup of the salty, starchy water when you strain it. Place back into the pot (or a serving bowl if you want to be fancy) and add veggies. Keep off the heat.

In a blender or a food processor, add all the rest of the ingredients (kale, edamame, basil, mint, cheese, olive oil, walnuts, garlic). Puree until smooth, adding as much pasta water as you need to thin out the pesto to make a sauce. Use salt and pepper to taste. I’d say start out with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and go from there.

Add the pesto to the pasta and the veggies, stir to coat and serve hot or cold!

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Delicious App Made Easier

Who doesn’t love jalapeño poppers? Come on. Seriously.

But who wants to fill jalapenos and bread each one individually? Not me.

When my boyfriend and I have get-togethers with friends I love making homemade snacks. Jalapeño popper dip was my choice for the evening. It is best served warm. So, next time instead of baking it, I’m going to put the whole cheese mixture in my crock pot on warm, let it heat up, and then toast the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese in a teeny bit of olive oil or butter to toast them, and put on top. The repeated re-heating of the dip changed the texture a bit.

I’ve found lots of recipes via foodgawker for such a dip, but I wasn’t crazy about loading it with mayonnaise, butter and things of the like. So I attempted to make it healthier. I swapped out the mayonnaise for Greek yogurt – if you haven’t noticed I’m a huge fan of this – left out some of the butter. I also used Neufchatel cheese, which is cream cheese with less fat.

Needless to say, it was a huge hit! Serve with tortilla chips, pita chips, crackers, veggies, or whatever floats your boat.

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Jalapeño Popper Dip

16 oz. Neufchatel cheese, or low fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 c. plain non-fat, Greek yogurt
5 jalapeños, seeded and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 c. 2% shredded cheddar cheese
1 c. Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the cream cheese, yogurt, jalapeño, garlic, cumin and cheddar cheese together in a bowl. Pour into a 9×13 baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix together the melted butter, Parmesan cheese and Panko breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over top of your mixture in the baking dish.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the dip becomes bubbly and brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Eat up!

Note: If you are going to have people lingering and eating the dip over a couple of hours, put the dip in a crock pot and cook on low for about 45 minutes then turn your crock pot down to warm. To get the breadcrumbs toasted, heat the butter, parm cheese, and breadcrumbs in a frying pan until browned. Sprinkle on top before serving. I did not try this method out, but I’m sure it will work perfectly and I plan to do it next time I make the dip.

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Cakes of Crab

I am definitely not a seafood person. I only like when seafood is disguised in other forms such as clams casino, coconut covered and fried shrimp, and of course crab cakes.

But I understand you crab lovers out there don’t like crab cakes with all the fillers, masking the crab flavor. So I hope this recipe comes as somewhat of a compromise. I added lots of fresh yummy flavors to not quite mask the crab flavor, but enhance it and compliment it. For those of you that have stayed away from making your own crab cakes, I promise you, they are SO easy to put together. This recipe I made up prepares about 6 very large crab cakes. Feel free to make them smaller, but one is definitely enough for one person alone. Bitty crab cakes would be delicious as an appetizer.

As for a side dish, I served these up with a little coconut-lime brown rice. I made this in an attempt to find other uses for coconut oil. YUM!

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Crab Cakes with Coconut-Lime Brown Rice
(Makes 6 large crabcakes)

For the Crab Cakes:

1 lb. lump crab meat
1 bell pepper, color of your choice, diced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 c. celery, diced (about 2-3 stalks)
1/4 c. chopped cilantro or parsley
1/3 c. non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/2-3/4 c. panko or regular bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
Salt and pepper

For the Rice:

1 c. dried brown rice
2 tbsp. virgin coconut oil
1 lime, juiced and zested

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

In a large frying pan, drizzle a little olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Drop in celery, peppers, and onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until the veggies start to become translucent, about 8-10 minutes

Meanwhile, put all the other crab cake ingredients into a large bowl and mix. When the veggies are done, add them to the rest of the ingredients in the bowl. Add in 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Mix until combined. You want the mixture to stick together nicely, if it’s too wet add more breadcrumbs.

Grab a baseball sized handful (if you’re making big crab cakes) and form into a ball, and flatten into a disc. Place on the baking sheet and repeat until finished. If they’re different sizes, pull some from one and add to another. If you want to make smaller crab cakes, you can adjust the baking time for less and keep an eye on them until golden.

Pop the cakes into the oven and bake for about 45 minutes to an hour until the crab cakes are deliciously browned.

To make the rice, cook according to package directions. Usually a 2:1 ratio water to rice. Cook until the water is absorbed. Turn the heat up to medium when the water is gone. Add the coconut oil and lime juice and zest. Cook until the oil is melted and incorporated.

Serve up!

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The BEST Banana Bread EVER!

I found this recipe on The Kitchn in an article about cooking with coconut oil. It’s become all the rage and it’s available at Trader Joe’s right now … and probably regular grocery stores too. Coconut oil is an excellent sub for baking. Here’s the links to the suggestions for baking with coconut oil and one about its health benefits.

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In any case, I’ve used my coconut oil twice: once for this AMAZING banana bread and another for frying up some lime spiked brown rice to serve with my crab cakes (that recipe will come in a couple days).

This banana bread is super moist. For days. Seriously. It’s absolutely amazing. And the best part? It’s not as unhealthy as other banana bread recipes! I spread a bit of cookie butter on it, and oh my god. HEAVEN. But it’s also completely delicious on its own. Give it a try!

The original recipe is here. I added some chopped walnuts, but you can feel free to leave them out if you don’t like them. I also used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose.

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Banana Bread
(Makes 1 loaf)

1/2 c. coconut oil
1 c. Greek yogurt
1 c. brown sugar
1 egg
2 ripe, medium sized bananas
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray your loaf pan or 8×8″ pan with cooking spray.

In a stand mixer, beat the coconut oil on medium speed for about 7-8 minutes until it becomes light and soft. Meanwhile, mix the dry ingredients together.

Add the yogurt to the coconut oil and continue to beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add the brown sugar and continue to beat until combined and slightly fluffy, about 5 minutes. Then, add the bananas and egg and mix until combined.

Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until JUST combined. Fold in walnuts, if using. You don’t want to overbeat, especially using whole wheat flour.

Pour into your pan and bake 45-55 minutes until a toothpick or knife comes out clean. Start checking at about 30 minutes. If the top and edges get too brown, cover with foil.

Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before digging in!

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What to Do with Leftover Kale?

Make kale chips!

After my spaghetti carbonara, I had a half a bag of precut kale left. So I finally decided to try to make some kale chips.

Now, if you’re like me and read a whole number of food websites, and stalk food blogs via foodgawker. You’ll notice that kale chips are becoming all the rage. And for good reason!

They are DELICIOUS. Baking kale in the oven makes the chips crispy and gives an almost nutty flavor. Best of all they’re healthy!

Many websites suggest tossing kale in olive oil. I found it slightly irritating to do so because kale has to many nooks and crannies. What did I do instead? Lay out the kale on a parchment lined baking sheet….then spray with olive oil cooking spray.

I realize kale chips themselves wouldn’t have too many calories if you even just tossed them in olive oil, but using cooking spray is easier AND has no calories. Score.

Once you start making kale chips, there is so many ways you can spice & flavor them up. The possibilities are endless. Simple with salt and pepper, a little cheesier with shredded cheese or grated parmesan. Squeezed with a little lime or lemon juice. Add spices like chili powder or cumin. See?

I used parmesan in this recipe. So I didn’t even need to use salt. But feel free if you’re just using pepper!

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Kale Chips

2 bunches of kale, stripped of stems, chopped washed and dried thoroughly
2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
Black pepper
Olive oil cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Make sure your kale is thoroughly dried after washing. Using precut/washed kale in the grocery store will make this easy!

Spread out the kale on your baking sheet. Make sure the kale is not overlapping. If it does, use a second baking sheet.

Sprinkle with your cheese and a small amount of pepper. Bake for about 8-10 minutes until the chips are lightly toasted and crunchy. Serve and enjoy!

Note: Some people claim you can store these chips in a ziploc or airtight container. I have never tried it so I cannot attest to it! I can’t imagine the chips would stay crunchy…

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