Sunday, October 4, 2015

Burrata and Balsamic Caprese Salad

First things first, we need to talk about Burrata.  If you haven't had the pleasure of this fresh Italian cheese, we need to remedy that immediately.  The best way to describe this fresh and decadent cheese is it is basically a shell of mozzarella with a cream center.  This creates a delicious taste and a most wonderfully creamy texture.  It works beautifully in place of standard mozzarella in the Caprese salad.  I love to make a Caprese salad for guests or to bring to a potluck because it is a delicious and an easy low-carb salad.  With just three main ingredients of tomatoes, basil and cheese, you can't go wrong.  Using the Burrata takes it up a notch and in my opinion, is easier to prepare because you don't have to pre-slice the cheese.  Because the center is filled with cream, you want to slice into it as you eat.  Just throw it all together in a bowl, season with salt, pepper, EVOO and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar served with some toasted bread for those not eating low-carb and you are good to go.  This is sure to be a crowd pleaser with ANY crowd!

This is what you need:

1 lb of Tomatoes ( if you can get Heirlooms, do so!  If not, Roma would be perfect)
1-1 1/2 cup of Basil Leaves - torn
1 Baguette of Sourdough or French bread - sliced
1 12-16 oz Container of Burrata Cheese - 2 balls (if you can't find Burrata, fresh mozzarella will be fine)
2 tbsp EVOO
1-2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper

This is what you do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, slice the bread and drizzle with EVOO.  Place on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 13-15 minutes.  Slice the tomatoes in about 2 inch by 1 inch pieces and tear or cut the basil to roughly the same size.  Grab a medium size bowl and layer the tomato on the bottom, add the two balls of burrata and then layer the remaining tomato and basil all around.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper around each layer.  When finished, add the EVOO and balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.  Remove toasted bread from the oven and serve!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 6-10

Monday, September 7, 2015

Creamy Avocado Chimichurri

I am a huge fan of sauces. What is wrong with adding more flavor to just about anything? One of my all time favorites is a chimichurri sauce. Originated in Argentina, it traditionally combines herbs, olive oil, garlic and vinegar to create a tangy and fresh sauce that is absolutely incredible over grilled meats. My husband and I have been playing around with our own versions but this is the recipe that we keep going back to. We combine Italian parsley with cilantro with a ton of garlic, but the secret ingridiant that takes this chiminchurri to the next level is avocado. It gives it the most wonderful creaminess that is fantastic on just about anything. We love it on tri-tip, chicken, fish, tacos, grilled veggies and burgers. It is always a huge hit when we serve it to guests and is a really simple way to elevate your food. Seriously, give this one a shot, you will not be sorry you did!

This is what you need:

1 Bunch of Cilantro- no stems
1 Bunch of Italian Parsley- no stems (or 2 bunches of parsley if you do not like cilantro)
1 Avocado
6 Garlic Cloves- rough chop
3 tbsp fresh Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 cup EVOO
1/4-1/2 tsp Salt and Pepper

This is what you do:
Wash and remove stems from the cilantro and parsley and rough chop the garlic cloves.  Add all to a food processor or blender.  Blend for about a minute, then scrape the sides of the processor down and blend again for another minute.  Add 3 tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar and 1 ripe avocado to the processor.  Blend until completely smooth, then turn off and add salt and pepper and slowly pour the 1/2 cup olive oil in the processor while it is on to emulsify the chimicurri.  Adjust seasoning to taste and pour into an air tight container and let chill in fridge for at least 2-3 hours before using. 
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Work Time: 5 minutes
Chill Time: 2-3 hours
Makes about 2 cups worth of sauce.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Veggie Hash and Eggs

Hello again!  It has been a minute, right?  You know how sometimes life happens and demands attention?  Well, that has happened to me!  The good news is that it is all good things but I am happy to say I am back with new inspiration for my blog!  If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you already know that I recently took part in a 7 Day Clean Eating Challenge.  Which can basically be described as eliminating sugar, gluten, dairy, legumes and anything artificial or processed.  I'll be doing a full blog post on what exactly it means to "eat clean" with my take-aways and recap of the challenge.  But to sum it up, was a great experience and I came away learning a ton and have a lot of ideas for clean and delicious recipes.  One of my favorites so far is this very one!  When one thinks of a breakfast hash, fried potatoes and meat  served with eggs probably comes to mind.  Now, I am not here to permanently dash those dreams, but I did substitute out the potatoes and meat for an array of veggies that is super filling and just as satisfying and clean!! The veggies I have been using for this are zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms and onions.  I love that I can chop them to an equal size chunk and they each give a different texture, flavor and color.  Use whatever you have on hand or prefer.  I am a giant fan of the over-easy egg, however, if you do not enjoy a runny yolk, scramble that thing up.  This can easily be made for a group or for one on a busy morning (or night) and will keep you full for hours!

This is what you need:

2-4 Eggs
1 medium zucchini (choppped)
1 bell pepper (chopped)
1 cup mushrooms (sliced)
1/2 medium onion (chopped)
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (divided)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper

This is what you do:
Chop the veggies all roughly the same size.  Heat a large frying pan or cast iron over medium-high heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil.  Add the mushrooms and onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until the start to brown.  Add a pinch of salt and some pepper, then add the bell pepper and zucchini.  Cook for 5-7 more minutes and add another pinch of salt and pepper.  Allow the veggies to caramelize and sear over the high heat.  This creates flavor and texture.  When veggies or done, (after about 10 minutes) remove and place on plates.  Turn the heat to medium-low on the pan and let cool off for a minute.  Then add 1-2 more tbsp of Olive Oil and crack the eggs.  Cook for the eggs until the whites are set but the yolks still runny.  When eggs are done, place them right over the veggies and serve.
Serves: 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Sunday, June 7, 2015

My Top 10 Anti-Aging Foods, Recipes and Practices

So here is my deal, I am almost 35 years old and have worn a basic sunscreen/ moisturizer on my face everyday since I was 19 years old.  I have a pretty fair complexion, so I have always been cognizant of over-exposure in the sun and really never used tanning beds.  So far, it has been working out pretty well.  However, now that I am approaching middle age (only in body, never in mind) I am thinking more about what kind of facial products I use and what types of nutrients I put on the inside to keep me looking and feeling my best.  I have compiled a list of my favorite foods and recipes that are said to naturally combat the signs of aging along with my favorite tools and products that are scientifically proven to do so.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Top 5 Side-Dishes for Your Memorial Day Barbeque

The most important thing about this American holiday is to give thanks and remember all of those who have served or are currently serving our country.  I am grateful every single day for my rights as an American citizen.  I also want to thank the families of those who are serving our country.  They sacrifice so much and deserve the praise and recognition too.  While I will be enjoying this wonderful three day weekend with family and friends, I will also be observing the reason why we are able to do this and that is because of the men and women who have given up their lives for my family's freedom.  No thank you could ever be enough, but I thank each and everyone who has served our country.  With that said, the second most important thing about this holiday is it the official kick off to summer and that usually means barbeques and cook-outs galore.  If you are lucky enough to attend or host a party, here are my top ideas for side-dishes that go amazingly well with burgers, ribs, hotdogs are chicken.  Happy Memorial Day!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Chicken Avocado Soup

Now that summer is around the corner it obviously means it is soup season, right?  Kidding, but seriously, even if it is 100 degrees outside, I would still crave this soup.  It is so delicious and healthy and can be completely low-carb or paleo, if that is your diet.  When I saw my good friend and fellow blogger Kelly over at post this recipe I new immediately I had to try it out.  A lot of actual chefs (not me) will tell you that making a good soup is quite difficult.  It is hard to get enough flavor out of the ingredients when using that much liquid, so when I made this recipe I was pleasantly surprised how delicious it really was.  The key is using actual salsa in the soup as an ingredient and not just a topping.  This is a fast way to infuse all of the flavors needed to make this soup so good while creating amazing spice and texture.  The star of this show is the avocado because there is something just so delightful about warm, creamy avocado in a spicy soup.  And being able to pile on all the fantastic Mexican style topping make for a filling and satisfying meal.  This recipe has become a family favorite in our house in such a short time, I had to share it with you.

This is what you need:

1-1 1/2 lbs of chicken thighs
4 cups Chicken Broth
2 cups water
1 container of Salsa (Pico de Gallo is my favorite to use in this)
1 can of Diced Tomatoes
3 Avocados - diced
1 Onion - chopped
1 Jalapeno - diced (optional)
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
1-2 Limes - juice
1 tbsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Chili Powder
1/2-1 tsp Salt
1/2-1 tsp Pepper
1 bunch of Cilantro

Optional Toppings
Sour Cream
More avocado
More Cilantro
Tortilla Chips (sooooo good if you are not going low-carb)
Hot Sauce

This is what you do:
Pour the chicken broth and water to a large pot or dutch oven.  Chop the onion, garlic and jalapeno and add to the pot.  Heat over high heat and once boiling, add the chicken thighs, can of tomatoes, salsa, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper.  Poach the chicken right in the soup for about 15 minutes, remove and shred with forks or a Kitchen Aid mixer.  Lower the heat to low and put the shredded chicken right back to the pot and add the juice of 1-2 limes.  Simmer for at least 20 minutes but up to an hour.  Taste and add any additional seasonings.  Chop the avocados up into bite size pieces and set aside.  Right before serving, add a handful of roughly chopped cilantro to the pot.  Ladle the soup into big bowls and add 1/4-1/2 avocado into each bowl.  Top with cheese and crushed tortilla chips and whatever else you like if desired.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: about an hour
Total Time: 75-90 minutes
Serves: 6-8

Monday, May 11, 2015

Banana and Chia Seed Overnight Oats

I am probably not alone when I say breakfast doesn't always happen for me.  I am not one that wakes up starving and tend to be pretty busy in the morning with my 5 and 2 year old daughters needing my attention. And since coffee is always my first priority, breakfast for me might not to happen.  That is until I discovered the joy that is Overnight Oats.  Basically it is cold oatmeal, soaked in milk or yogurt (or a combo of both) overnight, the oats expand and get soft and a little chewy.  It can be topped with just about anything from fruit to honey to a nut-butter to dark chocolate chips.  And it is good, like really, really good.  It is so easy to make and perfect to grab in the morning as you run out the door to work or juggle getting the kids and yourself fed.  I do try to stick to a low-carb diet, and even though oats are not low-carb, they are gluten-free and packed with fiber that slows digestion down, which in turn keeps you fuller longer.  The chia seeds add more fiber and Omega-3's and the banana naturally sweetens it up while adding vitamins and minerals.  If I am doing a particularly hard workout in the morning, or know that I have a really busy day, I will fill up on overnight oats in the morning.  Make this tonight and eat it tomorrow for breakfast.  You will not be sorry you did!

This is what you need:

1/2 cup Oats (any kind will do, even instant oats)
1/2 cup Milk (you can do 1/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup yogurt if you want it really creamy and thick)
1/2-1 whole Banana - sliced
1 tbsp Chia Seeds
1 tsp Honey
Pinch of Salt

Optional Toppings:
Any sliced fruit
Peanut butter or Nut butter
Coconut Flakes
Dark Chocolate Chips

This is what you do:
Mix all ingredients in Tupperware or bowl or mason jar.  Let sit at least 3-4 hours, but overnight is best.  When ready to eat, mix again and enjoy as is or top with any of the items listed above.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Chill Time: 3-4 hours to overnight
Serves: 1-2

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Greek Turkey Meatloaf

I didn't eat a ton of meatloaf growing up, but I always liked it when my mom would make it.  Seasoned ground meat with ketchup?  Sure, why not?  As an adult, I am not a meatloaf super-fan or anything, but it certainly has it's place at the dinner table and makes for an easy and healthy dinner that most kids and adults will eat.  Between you and me, the term "meatloaf" doesn't really get my hunger pangs going, but it is the perfect description so I guess we are stuck with it.  My dislike for the name has not stopped me from coming up with different varieties of it.  And I have to say, this one is probably my favorite.  I am obsessed with all Greek food and love the salty bite of the feta cheese and kalamata olives, the sweetness of the roasted red peppers and mint and the freshness that the spinach and parsley give that really make this dish a delight.  I like to use turkey with this recipe because it is so mild and really takes on the flavors well, plus it is lower in fat than beef.  The next time you have some ground turkey and feel like using your hands as kitchen tools, give this recipe a try.

This is what you need:

1-1.5 lbs of Ground Turkey (mine was 1.4 lbs)
1/2 cup of Feta Cheese
1/4 cup Sliced Kalamata Olives (or any olives you have)
1/4 cup diced Roasted Red Peppers
1/3 cup Breadcrumbs
1/2 Onion- diced 
2 cloves of Garlic- minced
1 cup Spinach Leaves
1 Egg
1/4 cup Flat Leaf Parsley -chopped
1 tbsp Mint - chopped
3 tbsp Olive Oil - divided
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
Cooking Spray

Optional Toppings:
Tzatziki Sauce

This is what you do:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees, line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Dice the 1/2 onion and mince 2 cloves of garlic and heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan.  Saute the onion and garlic until translucent and add 1 cup of spinach to pan and cook until wilted.  Remove from pan and set aside.  In a large bowl, place all of the other ingredients together and add the spinach mixture.  Use hands to mix everything together and get all the ingredients evenly distributed.  Place mixture on the baking sheet and use hands to form it into a brick about 2-3 inches tall and around 8 inches long.  Cook for 45 minutes or until the the internal temperature is 165 degrees.  Let rest for about 5 minutes, slice and serve!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time 45-50 minutes
Total Time: 60-65 minutes
Serves: 4

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

I think at this point it is pretty obvious, I am huge fan of roasting vegetables.  I really do think it is the absolute best way to prepare most veggies because it is so easy to do and enhances the flavor and texture of almost anything.  So obviously, cauliflower is no different, although I will eat it in almost any shape or form, (see my Crispy Cauliflower Rice).  Roasting makes it crispy in some areas, and soft in others and it takes on any flavors it is cooked with.  My favorite way is to season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese and toss it all with olive oil.  And that is it, throw it on roasting pan and you have a fabulous side dish that pairs wonderfully with chicken, steak or fish.  Next time you pick up a cauliflower, try preparing it this way, I know you won't be disappointed.

This is what you need:

1 Medium Cauliflower
2 tbsp Olive Oil
2-3 tbsp of Parmesan Cheese
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder

This is what you do:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and cut the cauliflower up into florets, about an inch to two inches big.  Toss with the olive oil, Parmesan, salt, pepper and garlic powder and spread evenly on a foil lined baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Careful not to over crowd, because the cauliflower will steam and not roast if there is too many.  Roast for 15 minutes, remove and toss on the sheet.  Roast for another 10 minutes or so, until desired crispiness is achieved.  Serve and enjoy!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
Total Time: 25-30 minutes
Serves: 4-6

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Top 10 Cinco de Mayo Menu Ideas

Having lived in California my whole life with a Mexican-American step-dad, I have always celebrated Cinco de Mayo to some degree.  Which it actually commemorates an important battle the Mexican Army won against the French on May 5, 1862, not the Mexican Independence Day, which is September 16.  And in San Diego, it is basically a city wide holiday that most of us observe.  In college it may have involved one too many tequila shots but now it is more about the food (and the margaritas, who I am kidding?).  So I thought I would round up a list of some of my favorite Mexican inspired appetizers, meals and drinks for your Cinco de Mayo fiesta.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Enchilada Stuffed Peppers

I'm no stranger to enchiladas or stuffed peppers and since I have made it a life goal to turn all my favorite dishes into a low-carb version of themselves, I decided to see what would happen if I stuffed a pepper with enchilada filling.  And you know what?  I am really glad I did.  The bell pepper is such a wonderfully healthy and delicious vessel for just about anything, so much so that you won't even miss the tortillas.  Especially when they are stuffed with so much flavor and goodness.  This a completely  versatile recipe as far as what meat you choose if any and can also be made dairy free.  I love to use my Crock-Pot Salsa Chicken and mix it with black beans, corn and roasted chillies.  However, you can use ground beef or turkey or quinoa or rice and any beans you prefer.  The idea behind this recipe to allow us to enjoy a healthier version of enchiladas with any kind of fillings.  Not only is this seriously easy to make, but is gorgeous and makes enough to feed a family of four, with leftovers.  Give this one a shot next time you have enchilada like tonight, right?

This is what you need:

5 Bell Peppers (any color)
1 lb of Meat or 2-3 cups of Rice or Quinoa (any meat you like, salsa chicken, ground meat or turkey)
2 cups Enchilada Sauce (any kind)
1 can of Black Beans (rinsed and drained)
1 can of Corn (drained)
1 small can of Fire Roasted Chillies
1 cup of Sour Cream (Light or Greek Yogurt works great too)
1 cup of Shredded Cheese
1/2 cup Chopped Green Onions
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper

Optional Garnish
Sour Cream

This is what you do:
Cook or prepare the meat however you want.  If you are using ground beef or turkey, cook and season with taco seasonings for best flavor.  Once meat is prepared, preheat oven to 375 degrees and slice the peppers in half.  Remove the stem, ribs and seeds and season with olive oil, salt and pepper then place in a glass baking dish.  Mix the cooked meat, cans of rinsed and drained beans and corn, the can of fire roasted chillies, 1/2 cup shredded cheese and the green onions in a large bowl.  The add 1 cup of enchilada sauce and 1 cup of sour sour cream to the bowl.  Mix well and scoop mixture into each pepper, fill really well.  Top with the remaining cheese and back at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.  Let sit for a few minutes, top with the garnishes of your choice and serve!
Prep Time: 20-25 minutes if cooking ground meat or rice.  (Salsa chicken takes 3-4 hours in the crock-pot, you can prepare this ahead of time)
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 5 People, 1 full pepper each

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Fix Sriracha Hot Sauce **GIVEAWAY**

I like to think of myself as somewhat of a hot sauce aficionado since my pantry and fridge are filled with countless types and brands.  Honestly, I like them all, from the Mexican to the Asian to the American varieties, I don't discriminate and use them all.  So I was obviously over-joyed when I was contacted by Fix Sriracha to try their special brand of hot sauce.  They are incredibly passionate about sourcing and bottling directly from Vietnam and using organic chili peppers with no artificial or processed foods.  And let me tell you, this sriracha sauce is absolutely delicious.  It is spicy and garlicky with a touch of tang and a bit of sweetness.  It literally tastes good on everything from eggs to rice to Mexican food to pizza and everything in between.  I can't get enough of it and I am super excited that Fix Sriracha is giving away a bottle to one of you!  All you have to do is sign up through the Rafflecopter giveaway below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can also check out their product on their website or on Amazon.

 ***Product was gifted to me for review and giveaway, opinions are all mine***
****Post contains affiliate links****

Monday, April 20, 2015

Crock-Pot Salsa Chicken

Remember my friend from Little BumbleBees who inspired my Chicken, Avocado and Goat Cheese Salad in Endive Cups recipe?  Well she has inspired yet another amazing recipe and this may be the simplest and most versatile one yet.  It literally consists of having a crock-pot and putting chicken breasts, a jar of any salsa and a bit of seasoning in it and pressing the On button.  The end result is a the most tender, juicy and flavorful chicken ever that shreds almost just by looking it at.  This chicken can be used in tacos, enchiladas, burritos, on salads or sandwhichs, anything.  I love to make this when I have a casual dinner or lunch at my house and do a "Burrito Bar" where I line it up tortillas, beans, rice and all the fixings one could want.  It is always a hit and lets each guest personalize their own burrito however they want.  It is also a very affordable way to feed a lot of people because the chicken goes so far when cooked this way.  This is one recipe that you will go back to time and time again.

This is what you need:

3-4 Chicken Breasts (1-1.5 lbs)
1 Jar of Salsa (any 12-14 oz jar you like)
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder

This is what you do:
Pour a small amount of the salsa on the bottom of the crock-pot, then add the chicken, the olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Cover the chicken with the remaining salsa.  Turn the crock-pot on high and cook for 3-4 hours or low and cook for 6-8 hours.  When finished cooking, take a fork and shred the chicken, mix all around to pick up all the salsa and serve.  Perfect taco, burrito or salad meat.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3-8 hours depending on crock-pot
Serves 6-10

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Grilled Romaine Salad

I can see how the idea of hot, charred lettuce may sound a bit odd at first but after trying this salad, you may never go back.  All of the sudden, the romaine is crispy and crunchy but juicy and tender, and it takes on the all the flavors of what it is seasoned with.  I had eaten different grilled romaine salads in restaurants here and there, and always enjoyed them, but the thought of actually making it at home hadn't really occurred to me.  Mostly because I tend to eat more spinach and spring mix salads, so I do not have a lot of heads of romaine lettuce around often.  That however has changed because this gorgeous, healthy and super simple salad has become a staple in my home and hopefully will in yours too.  Romaine lettuce is considered a dark leafy green which contains many antioxidants and is packed with Vitamins A and C.  Not only is it healthy, it is also very affordable which makes this a wonderful salad to serve at a dinner party.  This recipe calls for so few ingredients, takes just minutes to prepare and is delicious hot or room temperature.  Next time you are busting out the grill, make sure to include this on your menu.  I promise you will not be disappointed!

This is what you need:

3 Hearts of Romaine
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1 Lemon - juiced
Parmesan Shavings (or grated would be great too)

This is what you do:
Preheat grill to high and oil the racks so the lettuce does not stick.  You can also a grill pan for this too.  Wash and dry the romaine and remove the outer leaves with any bruising or other damage.  Cut the tips of the root off that are brown, leaving the majority on the head of lettuce and slice each in half.  Drizzle the oil, salt and pepper evenly over each half head of lettuce.  Place the lettuce cut side down right over the flame on the grill and let cook for 5-7 minutes, then flip.  Continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so, until the lettuce reached desired char.  Remove from heat, squeeze the lemon juice all over the lettuce and top with Parmesan shavings. Enjoy!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10-13 minutes
Serves: 1/2 to 1 full head per person

Monday, April 13, 2015

Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Vegetables with Shaved Parmesan

I may have an addiction to roasting vegetables.  It is so simple, so delicious and makes for an easy clean up.  I am constantly trying different vegetables together with different herbs or sauces and honestly nothing ever turns out bad.  For this recipe, you can literally use any veggies you have on hand and toss with fresh or dried rosemary and chunks of garlic then top with shaved Parmesan and be done.  This particular night I was lucky enough to have some of my favorites on hand; asparagus and mushrooms then I added some golden baby tomatoes because I had them.  The woody asparagus with the meaty mushroom was a perfect balance to the sweet and acidic bite of the tomato.  The chunky pieces of garlic roast up sweet and delicious and it gives the whole dish such a rich favor.  This recipe works as a beautiful side dish to grilled chicken or steak and would also be fantastic on top of quinoa or my Crispy Cauliflower Rice.  A healthy, simple beautiful dish that would be perfect for a busy weeknight or a dinner party.

This is what you need:

1 bunch of Asparagus
3 cups Mushrooms - sliced
1 cup of Cherry Tomatoes
3 cloves of Garlic - rough chopped
2 tbsp of Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tbsp fresh Rosemary or 1/2 tsp dried Rosemary
3 tbsp Parmesan Shavings

Sub any veggies you prefer or have on hand such as bell peppers, zucchini, Brussels sprouts or leeks.

This is what you do:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash and trim the bottom of the asparagus off and cut into thirds.  Slice or quarter the mushrooms and rough chop the garlic and rosemary.  Combine in a bowl with the tomatoes, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp each of Salt and Pepper and mix well.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Lay the veggies out in a flat layer and roast for about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and shave a Parmesan cheese block with a vegetable peeper to get thin strips over the veggies.  Serve and Enjoy!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4 as a side dish

Sunday, April 12, 2015

My Top 10 Lifestyle Products I Can't Live Without

I love to try new things, but when I find something I love and that works well for me, I am weirdly loyal to it.  Mostly because it is easier to go with what I know and it allows me to concentrate on my kids, my husband, my cooking and my wine.  Being a stay at home mom to two little kids doesn't afford me much time or reason to get all dolled up, so I go with a pretty casual look on most days.  Here is a list of my favorite products that get me through the day- from morning to night- allowing me to look and feel somewhat put together in the fastest way possible. 

1.  Keurig Brewing System

Honestly, I don't function at my best without coffee.  I love everything about it and it truly helps me get out of bed and get moving.  I absolutely adore the Keurig, because it is just so easy to use and my coffee is ready in less than in minute at any time of the day.  It is a bit of an investment and the K-Cups are not cheap, but my husband and I find we actually waste less coffee by making only what we are going to drink at that time.  Get yours here!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Top 10 Appetizers for Your Holiday Weekend

We have a big holiday weekend coming up and for most of us, that means an appetizer or several will need to be prepared.  It is always good to have a couple in your recipe file that are homemade and store bought.  No one wants to be stuck in the kitchen for hours and miss out on the party, but you also want to put a little effort into making something delicious and pleasing to the eye.  It is a holiday after all!  Whether you are hosting an event, or bringing an appetizer to a potluck, I got you covered on what to prepare.  All recipes are easy to make and my personal tried and true favorites.  For good measure, I threw in my cocktail of choice for a daytime holiday party. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Smoked Salmon Appetizer Plate

There was a time in my life when I could eat bagels like it was going out of style.  You know, those teenage to early twenties years.  And when I did, it had to be bagels and lox (cold-smoked salmon) with all the fixings.  The soft yet crunchy Everything Bagel, the juicy tomato, the spicy red onion, the salty capers and of course, the wonderfully smoky and rich salmon.  It. Is. Heaven.  Sadly, the bagel free for all had to come to end, so I needed to figure out how to get my smoked salmon fix handled.  Enter my Smoked Salmon Appetizer Plate.  It has everything you could want on a bagel with lox, except it is served with crackers and cucumber slices for a low-carb option.  I serve this at every holiday because it looks kind of fancy but really could be simpler.  The trick is you want to buy high quality Nova Scotia Salmon (Trader Joe's and Costco both have delicious and affordable choices) and everything else just falls into place.  This is a fast, no-cook appetizer that looks impressive and is super delicious.  Perfect for a busy holiday or dinner party!

This is what you need:

1 package of Nova Scotia Smoked Salmon
1 block of Cream Cheese
1 English Cucumber
1 Tomato
1 Red Onion
1 jar of Capers
1 package of large Crackers

This what you do:
Slice the tomato and the red onion into thin rounds, then slice the cucumber into 1/2 inch slices.  Arrange all the fixings on a platter to allow you and your guests to build their own cracker or cucumber how they like it. 
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 8-10 guests as an appetizer

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Chinese Pork and Green Beans

If I had to pick a favorite type of a food, it would be Asian.  I literally love every different kind from Japanese to Korean to Thai and anything in between.  The flavors are intense and interesting and I love the family style way of eating and sharing.  Growing up, I ate a lot of Chinese food because my mom loves it.  As a kid, I could not get enough of the pork and green bean dish and would order it every time.  My love for the dish has not wavered and luckily it is a low-carb recipe that is actually super easy to prepare. I love to use Haricoverts in this recipe which are a skinnier, more tender version of a standard green bean.  However, a standard American green bean will work just fine and be delicious.  I use ground pork but ground turkey works well too.  To create the amazing Asian favors, I combine hoisin sauce which is basically an Asian barbecue sauce, soy sauce and spicy garlic chili paste, which can all be found in a regular grocery store.  This recipe is very easy to throw together and cooks up fast.  It is an impressive dish and looks beautiful when served.  The next time you are craving some Chinese food, try this healthy dish instead!

This is what you need:

1 lb Ground Pork (Ground Turkey works too)
4 cups fresh Haricoverts (regular green beans are great too)
2 cloves Garlic - minced
1 tbsp Olive Oil
4 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
3 tbsp Soy Sauce
1-2 tbsp Garlic Chili Sauce (Siracha works well too)
2 tsp Sugar
2 tsp Cornstarch
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper

This is what you do:
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and with 1 tbsp Oil.  Add the ground pork, 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper and 2 tsp Cornstarch.  Break up the pork and mix with the seasonings well.  When just cooked through, add the minced garlic and the green beans.  Mix completely and cook for about 5-7 minutes.  While this is cooking, whisk4 tbsp Hoisin sauce, 3 tbsp Soy Sauce, 1-2 tbsp Garlic Chili Sauce, 2 tsp Sugar in a bowl.  Pour over the pork and green beans and mix so everything is coated.  Continue cooking until the green beans have reached your desired done-ness, about 5-10 minutes.  Serve alone, with rice or my Crispy Cauliflower Rice.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Total Time: 20-25 minutes
Serves: 4

Crispy Cauliflower Rice

For someone who is trying to eat low-carb or paleo, the cauliflower is the gift that keeps on giving.  It really can transform into so many things that people who are giving up carbs miss the most.  You know, things like pizza, mashed potatoes, bread-sticks, rice...everything that is off limits.  The cauliflower is packed with fiber and vitamin C and is low in fat and sugars.  The texture of a cauliflower changes with different cooking methods and the flavor is mild, which makes it a perfect substitute for so many comfort foods.  For this super simple recipe, it is all about turning the cauliflower florets into tiny rice like pieces and pan frying in a little bit of oil.  The cauliflower has a lot of water in it, so it can get turn mushy, because of this, we just use a small amount of oil and cook on medium high heat.  This makes a yummy, crispy rice like texture that goes so well with anything.  The possibilities are endless once you start this recipe so give it a try and have fun with it!

This is what you need:

1 head of Cauliflower (3 cups of "riced" cauliflower)
1 tsp Olive Oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Pepper

Optional Seasoning:
Garlic Powder
Cayenne Pepper
Chili Powder

This is what you do:
Cut the cauliflower into small florets and place in a food processor.  Pulse the food processor 5-10 times to chop the cauliflower into rice like pieces, being careful to not turn it into mush. Add 1 tsp of oil, the riced cauliflower and salt and pepper to a pan and fry over medium high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  When desired crispiness is reached, remove and serve!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Friday, March 27, 2015

Chicken, Avocado and Goat Cheese Salad in Endive Cups

Not long ago my daughters and I were invited to a play-date at one of my friends house.  She casually mentioned she would have lunch for the mommies there.  Since I am always looking for my next meal, my curiosity and hunger were peaked.  Mind you, I had already eaten lunch but that is neither here nor there.  When we arrived, I quickly sent my girls off to play and went to the kitchen to do what I do best (eat).  After I consumed my share and probably more, I asked her about it.  She explained to me that it was incredibly easy with no cooking required!  This salad uses a store bought rotisserie chicken (genius), avocado, goat cheese and the dressing is simply lime juice.  The cilantro and chives add a bright freshness and the whole thing can be eaten as is, in a tortilla, as a dip or on bread.  However, I love to use the salad to fill Endive (aun-deev) cups, which are little lettuce-type leaves that are crunchy and beautiful.  They have a slightly bittersweet flavor that works perfectly with this salad.  In this form, the recipe makes a beautiful and healthy appetizer for a dinner party or an easy and delicious weeknight dinner.  This might be the best thing to ever come out of a play-date!  Oh and my friend who threw this recipe together?  Not only is she an incredible cook and hostess, she also makes the sweetest clothes and accessories and has her own Etsy shop Little BumbleBees.  Check it out while munching on this yummy salad!

This is what you need:

1 Rotisserie Chicken
3 Avocados
The Juice of 1-2 Limes
20 Endive Leaves (or any lettuce cups would work perfect)
3 oz Goat Cheese
Handful of Cilantro Leaves
1 tbsp Chives - chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

This is what you do:
Remove all the meat from the chicken and chop into bite size pieces.  Chop the avocado and goat cheese in bite size pieces and add to a bowl.  Add the lime juice, cilantro and chives and gently mix to combine.  Salt and pepper to taste and fill the endive cups.  Serve and enjoy!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4-8

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Chili Rellenos Casserole

I love a good chili relleno and I doubt I am alone here.  How could a roasted green chili stuffed with cheese be wrong on any level?  The problem I have with them is that they are not necessarily in line with my "easy" way of cooking.  The roasting of the peppers, the peeling of the skin, the stuffing with cheese, the coating with egg whites, the frying... I mean, I am exhausted just typing the process out.  Naturally, I had to come up with an easier process to achieve similar results.  And what could be simpler than a casserole?  This low-carb recipe uses canned roasted chilis, cheese, eggs and milk and makes enough to feed a crowd.  Serve it alone, with grilled chicken and beans or wrap it up in a flour tortilla.  It is super versatile and can work as a breakfast or dinner dish and would make a fabulous addition to a potluck or holiday brunch.  

This is what you need:
1 27 oz of Roasted Green Chilies
6 Eggs
1 1/2 cups of Shredded Cheese
2 cups of Whole Milk
2 tbsp Flour
2 tbsp Hot Sauce
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
2 Green Onions Chopped (optional)

Optional Toppings and Sides:
Sour Cream
Hot Sauce
Chicken or Carnitas

This what you do:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Drain the canned chilies and slice them open so they lay flat.  Combine the eggs, milk, flour, hot sauce, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a bowl and whisk thoroughly.  Layer the bottom of a 9x13 glass baking dish with the chilies and over that add a large handful of cheese, then add another layer of chilies and cheese, then another.  There should be enough for 3 layers.  Over the top, pour the egg and milk mixture and add any remaining cheese.  Bake for 45-50 minutes until set and the top is browned.  Remove from oven, let sit for a couple minutes and serve!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 45-50 minutes
Total Time: 60-65 minutes
Serves: 8-10

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Roasted Radishes

For a long time, when I thought of a radish, it wasn't with much fanfare.  I tended to stay away from the root vegetable when they were on a veggie platter, even my own.  They are very beautiful, but as far as eating them raw, I was not a huge fan.  When my husband and I signed up for CSA Box deliveries, the radish was always included in the box.  I absolutely hate wasting anything, so I knew I needed to figure out a way to enjoy them.  I started experimenting with different ways to eat the radish, and now like them sliced super thin on tacos or sandwiches. However my absolute favorite way is to roast them.  It gives the peppery radish a much milder, almost sweet flavor and they crisp up like a potato, which is wonderful for us leading a low-carb lifestyle.  The look and taste is similar to a roasted red potato so it makes a perfect low-carb substitute.  The radish is extremely affordable and is packed with Vitamin C, fiber and very low in carbohydrates.  This recipe could not be easier and would make a wonderful side dish to any protein and is beautiful enough to serve at a dinner party or holiday.

This is what you need:

1 bunch of Radishes (14-16) 
1/2 tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Garlic Powder
1/8 tsp dried Oregano
1 tsp Lemon Juice

This is what you do:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Wash and quarter the big radishes, halve the smaller ones so they are all roughly the same size.  Mix with 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp each of oregano and garlic powder.  Place them on foil lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Cook for 10 minutes, flip them around and roast for another 5-10 minutes until desired crispness.  Toss with the lemon juice and serve.  
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes
Serves: 2 but this recipe can easily be doubled, tripled or quadrupled

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Mediterranean Couscous Salad

I need to declare my appreciation for the time change that occurred over the past weekend.  While we may lose an hour of sleep, we gain so much more.  Gone are the days of darkness at 4:30 pm, the kids going stir crazy in the house and when dinner, baths and bedtime seem to come even slower.  Now there is light, spring is in the air and in our house that means outdoor cooking and eating.  My husband is the ultimate grill-er and just loves firing up the barbeque to cook some "man" food (steaks, hamburgers, wings, the list goes on and on).  What this means to me is that I get to prepare side dishes and salads galore and one my absolute favorite spring/summer salads is this Mediterranean Couscous Salad.  If you are not familiar, couscous is just a very small form of pasta that is extremely versatile in how it is served.  I love to use Israeli couscous because it is slightly larger in size and has a softer, chewier texture that pairs extremely well with almost anything.  I take the already yummy couscous and season it, then add some of my favorite vegetables, fresh herbs, spicy arugula and most importantly, feta cheese.  This is all tossed in a bit of Italian dressing and served cold.  It makes an extremely healthy, beautiful salad that works so well as a hearty side dish to any protein.  It could also easily work as a main course by adding some grilled chicken or beef right in it.  Next time you need a simple, delicious salad or side dish for your cookout or grilling party, give this one a shot!

This is what you need:

2 cups dry Couscous (I prefer Israeli, but any kind is fine!)
2 cups Chicken Stock
3/4 cup Grape Tomatoes - sliced
3/4 cup Cucumbers - sliced
2 Green Onions - sliced
1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
1 cup Arugula (or Spinach)
1/2 cup Feta Cheese
2 Garlic Cloves - minced
1/4 cup Italian Parsley - chopped
1 tbsp Mint - chopped
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tbsp Italian Salad Dressing

This what you do:
Prepare the couscous to the package directions (use the chicken stock instead of water and add the garlic, salt and pepper to the stock) and chop the fresh veggies and herbs.  When the couscous is ready remove from heat and let come to room temperature, about 20-30 minutes.  Add the fresh veggies, herbs and feta cheese.  Refriderate and when ready to serve, remove from the refirdgerator and add the arugula and salad dressing.  Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.  Serve and enjoy!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Cool Down: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Serves 4-6 as a side dish

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Roasted Vegetable and Goat Cheese Enchilada Casserole

What is better than enchiladas?  An enchilada casserole!!  You may be wondering why...well, for the extremely important fact that an enchilada casserole is much easier to prepare than actual enchiladas.  Who has the time to roll each tortilla, when one can simply make tortilla layers?  Not me, but if you do and prefer to do it that way, this recipe will work for enchiladas too!  And trust me, no matter how you decide to prepare this dish, it will be fantastic.  How could roasted veggies, black beans, sweet corn and creamy goat cheese ever be wrong?  Take all of that goodness and add some extra cheese, tortillas and enchilada sauce and you have yourself a super easy but very impressive and beautiful looking dish.  This is perfect to serve at a dinner party because it is relatively affordable to feed a large group and it's also a great vegetarian option.  However, if you want to add chicken or beef, I doubt there would be any complaints.  Now, on to the recipe!

This is what you need:
12 Corn Tortillas
2 cans of Black Beans
1 can of Corn
12-14 oz of Red Enchilada Sauce
5 oz of Goat Cheese
1 cup of Shredded Cheese
1 Zucchini - chopped
1 Onion - chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper - chopped
1 cup Mushrooms - sliced
1 Jalapeno - chopped (optional)
2 cloves of Garlic - smashed
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1 tbsp Hot Sauce (optional) 

Optional Toppings:
Green Onions
Sour Cream

This is what you:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and chop the veggies.  Combine the zuchini, mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, jalapeno and garlic in a bowl and mix with 2 tbsp Olive Oil and 1 tsp each of salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes on a foil lined baking sheet, flipping them at 10 minutes.  Rinse and drain the beans and corn and add to bowl.  Remove veggies from the oven and lower the oven to 350 degrees, then and add to the bowl of beans and corn.  Add goat cheese and 1/2 cup shredded cheese and the hot sauce and mix well.  Pour a little enchilada sauce in the bottom of 9x13 glass baking dish and make a layer of tortillas.  Add half the bean and veggie mixture then another tortilla layer.  Add the second half of the mixture, the last tortilla layer and the rest of the sauce.  Then add 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and green onions to the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let set for 5 minutes.  Garnish and serve!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Serves 8-10

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Honey and Soy Glazed Salmon

You may have heard the American Heart Association recommendation to eat seafood twice a week.  This has shown to decrease the chance of cardiovascular disease and help improve and maintain brain function.  You know, pretty important stuff.  Well, I have a confession, I am not eating seafood twice a week, or even once a week.  And it is not because I don't like it, because I actually really do, it is more of just being stuck on other proteins like chicken and beef, but I am trying to change that. So when I found this recipe for salmon many years ago, I was excited.  In fact, this was the recipe I used when I made salmon for the first time.  It literally is fool-proof and takes ten minutes and it's delicious!  Over the years, I have tried to incorporate more salmon in my diet due to the Omega-3 fatty acids that are so good for the heart and brain and also skin, hair and nails and this recipe is my go-to way to prepare it.  The honey and soy sauce give the glaze that sweet and salty flavor combination that works so well with salmon.  The fresh lime juice adds an acidic bite while the Dijon mustard gives it just a bit of heat.  Just four ingredients to the glaze and the whole thing is cooked in one pan in 10 minutes.  This is a fantastic, healthy dinner that is as easy to cook for one person as it is for a family.  If you are unsure of eating or cooking salmon, this is a great recipe to start with!

Here is what you need:

1 lb Salmon fillet or 2 half pound fillets
2 tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Honey
2 tbsp Fresh Lime Juice
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 tbsp Water
1 tbsp Vegetable Oil (coconut oil would be great here too)
Green Onions or Chives for Garnish

This is what you do:
Whisk the soy sauce, honey, Dijon mustard, lime juice and water in a small bowl and set aside. Heat the oil in medium frying pan over medium-high heat.  When hot, place the salmon skin side down and cover with a screen.  Cook for about 3 minutes then flip the salmon and cook for another 3 minutes, or until just cooked through.  Remove from pan and place on a plate or two.  Pour the soy sauce mixture in the same pan and let cook and stir for about 2 minutes, until it thickens to a glaze.  Pour directly over the salmon, garnish with green onions or chives and serve!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 1/2 pound of salmon per person.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Low Carb Margherita Pizza on Portobello Mushroom Caps

I do not think I am alone here when I confess my love for pizza.  It's a universally loved food item that sadly is not known for the health benefits.  Between the crust, the cheese and the processed meats, it can be a total diet buster.  So in order to adapt one of my all time favorite foods to fit a low-carb lifestyle and be a bit more health conscious, I have started using different vegetables as the crust.  One of the easiest veggies to use is the portobello mushroom.  Not only are they a wonderful way to get big dose of Vitamin D, they are also an easy way to portion control how much you eat.  Each mushroom cap is a filled with sauce, cheese and toppings and works as a personal pizza.  I happen to love margherita pizza on any crust, but the fresh basil and tomatoes work so well with the meaty portobello.  However, feel free to use whatever toppings you prefer!  These perfect little pizza make a quick and easy healthy dinner or work great as an appetizer for any dinner party. 

Here is what you need:

2 Large Portobello Mushroom Caps
2 tbsp Pizza Sauce (spaghetti or tomato sauce works great too)
1/2 cup Mozzarella Cheese - shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese - graded
1 tbsp Olive Oil
4-5 Cherry Tomatoes - sliced thin
4-5 Basil Leaves - torn
2 pinches of Salt
Cracked Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Garlic Powder
1/8 tsp of Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

This is what you do:
Heat oven to 400 degrees and wipe off mushrooms with a damp paper towel.  Take a spoon and scrape out the gills of the mushrooms and discard.  Place the mushrooms on a foil lined baking sheet top side up.  Drizzle the oil, salt, pepper and 1/8 tsp garlic powder over the mushroom cap.  Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes.  When done, flip them over and layer the ingredients just like you would a regular pizza then drizzle a bit more oil and salt and red pepper flakes over the top.  Return to oven and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted and gooey. Let stand for a few minutes to cool, then serve and enjoy!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Serves: 1-2 Mushroom Cap per person