Tag Archive | dinner

The best part of my weekend

Hey there, how was your weekend? I feel like I’m still recovering from mine, but in a good way. I’ve come to the conclusion that because I did so many different things, my weekend felt longer. Strange, but true! And longer weekends=happy Meredith!  Although I was utterly exhausted on Sunday night after a very busy Mother’s Day shift at work, Friday and Saturday were full of rest, exercise, ice-cream, good food and good friends. Can’t beat that!

Here’s a few of my favorite things from the weekend:

-A skinny Cappuccino to start Saturday off right:
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-Ice-cream in a waffle cone for lunch:
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…because sometimes you just need ice-cream for lunch! Who’s with me?
One scoop cookie dough and one scoop gold rush. I think this was the greatest lunch I’ve ever eaten. I have no regrets!

-Shopping purchases from Saturday, when Brandon bought me the greatest oven mitt EVER invented:
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Don’t worry, we didn’t buy Brandon one. He was just being a good sport and trying it on for me : – )

-Some Saturday studying, but studying is always a little easier when it’s on the ocean:IMG_2771

-Saturday night attire for dinner with the girls:
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That’s probably the most uncomfortable skirt I own, but I still love it!

-Mother’s Day 5.2K race on Sunday morning with my friend Kristy:
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It was a fun race with great energy and a lot of people, which surprised me for a Sunday! I loved that it honored all of the Mom’s out there. Plus, I got a PR so I was quite excited!
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-Part of my Sunday post-race brunch:
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Note to self, I REALLY need to start making muesli parfaits. This was delicious!

-And finally, the best part of my weekend:
I purchased my flights home for late June through July!!!!! Boston and Maine, here I come! I.am.ecstatic!
home-heart
Source
The countdown to home begins : –)
All-in-all, a lovely weekend. I just wish I could have spent it with my Mom. Next year I hope!

What was the best part of your weekend?
Do you ever eat ice-cream for lunch?
I do it from time-to-time and it always makes me happy, so I think it’s perfectly acceptable!

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Pizza…A twist on traditional

As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed how much my love of pizza has grown, too. It’s not that I never liked it, but growing up, pizza was considered a “treat”, since it can be a not-so-healthy option at restaurants. Funny that during my four years at Bryant University, this treat became a twice-to-three times a week meal I’d choose to eat. I’d like to blame that on the fact that pizza is a fairly inexpensive option and when you’re a “starving college student” it seems like a smart choice, but it’s also due to the fact that it tastes 100 times better after a night of too many drinks!

Anyway, fast forward to five years later, and today my love of pizza is at an all-time-high. I tend to make and re-make my favorites, such as sautéed vegetables with tomato sauce and roasted corn, or white pizza with ricotta, feta, and mozzarella on a whole grain crust. And when I go out for pizza, I usually stick with those favorites. Also, the crust of pizza is my favorite part of all. I must admit, I’ve enjoyed a range of white, whole-grain, thin, and even the occasional deep-dish crust over the years, and it’s truly the part of the pizza I look forward to most.  So you can imagine I was quite skeptical when I began to read about “cauliflower pizza crust”.  No bread? I almost didn’t try it, but I’m so glad I did!

I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand last night, so I gave it a go. To my surprise, it was delicious. Chewy and cheesy, almost like pizza. I won’t say it tastes like your traditional pizza crust, because it doesn’t…it’s not bread. But as a no-carb, low-fat, healthy option, this will certainly please your waistline and trick your taste-buds.

Cauliflower Crusted  Pizza with Chicken and Veggies   (adapted from Paula Deen)

Ingredients (for crust)
Non-stick cooking spray
2 ½ cups grated cauliflower (about ½ a large head)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese 
salt and black pepper to taste(about 1/2 tsp each)

For pizza toppings(add any toppings you’d like, this is just what I did!)
1/4 cup  tomato sauce
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Sautéed onions, mushrooms, and more cauliflower
Roasted shredded chicken breast (about 1/2 cup)

Directions
1) Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2) Grate the 1/2 head cauliflower using a box grater until you have 2.5 cups of cauliflower crumbles. Place in a large bowl and microwave for 7-8 minutes, or until softened. Remove and let cool for a few minutes.
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3) While the cauliflower is cooking, chop desired vegetables and/or other toppings, and sauté on stove in 1 tsp olive oil and/or cooking spray. Remove from heat once sautéed.
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4) Once the cauliflower has cooled off, mix in the egg, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. Once combined, pat into a 10-inch round on the parchment-paper prepared pizza pan. Spray lightly with non-stick spray and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden.
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5) Top the pizza crust with the sauce, mozzarella cheese, and in my case, the chicken and vegetables. Bake in the oven until melted and bubbly, about another 10 minutes. Cool, and serve.
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Looks like pizza, right? I was very surprised how much this tasted like pizza and Brandon was too, so I will certainly be making this again.  Serve yours with a side salad to round-out this healthy meal.  Hope you enjoy it!

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A simple side of sweet potato

Back home, sweet potatoes were quite the trend for the last year or two. It seemed most, if not all restaurants began to offer some sort of sweet potato side dish, french fry option, or meal choice on their menus. I can’t say I’ve seen sweet potato fries as a “chip” option here in Australia, but I can say they have plenty available at the grocery stores. Since I’m semi-sweet potato obsessed(thank God Brandon is to!), we’ve been buying a few each week to incorporate into our dinners. My favorite way to prepare them is definitely as baked sweet potato fries; it’s easy, simple, and always delicious. However, my Mom shared a recipe with me that sounded just as easy, so I gave it a try. It incorporates one onion, and one large sweet potato (or 2-3 smaller sweet potatoes) and a few other small ingredients. It takes only minutes to prep, then let the oven does the rest of the work. I think you’ll like this, I know we did!

A simple side of sweet potato
serves 2

Ingredients
1 very large sweet potato (or 2-3 smaller)
1 yellow onion
2 TBSP brown sugar
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
2 TBSP canola oil (olive oil would work, too)
2 tsp soy sauce

Directions
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius!) and cover a cookie sheet with tinfoil. Spray with cooking spray.
2. Chop sweet potatoes into cubes and chop onion up in similar sizes. Place in large mixing bowl.

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3. Add oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar to the potatoes and onion bowl. Mix well, then spread over cookie sheet.
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4. Cook for 20-25 minutes, toss, and cook for another 5-10 minutes, or until browned.
5. Enjoy along side your protein and vegetable of choice!  We had ours along with roasted broccoli and veggie burgers.

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I judge the success of a dish by how much is leftover…we scraped the cookie sheet. I guess that’s a good sign?

What’s your favorite way to eat sweet potatoes?

Simple Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Greetings from Australia! I have officially been here for a week now, so I’m almost unpacked, almost rested, and almost getting used to driving on the wrong side of the road….almost :) One thing I know I’ll almost always miss until I move back to the USA is my Mom’s cooking…so I’ve decided that I’m going to make a diligent effort to cook one of her recipes (or a similar recipe) once a week. Tonight, I did just that! My boyfriend requested shrimp fra diavolo (one of my Mom’s specialties), and while I didn’t use her exact recipe, I’d say this came out pretty well for an imitation. I loosely followed Cooking Light’s ‘budget friendly’ recipe, and while this is a fairly simple recipe, it most certainly doesn’t lack in taste.  You can alter the spicy factor to your discretion, too!

Simple Shrimp Fra Diavolo
Ingredients

1.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic, divided

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined ( I used about 32 shrimp)

3/4 cup diced onion

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 3/4 cups canned crushed tomatoes

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 (14.5-ounce) can  no-salt added diced tomatoes, drained

¼ of a chopped chile pepper (Optional!!)

Directions

1.  First, thaw your shrimp. (We used pre-cooked, since that was all that was available. I simply placed the shrimp in a colander and rinsed them under cold water for 2-3 minutes, or until de-thawed). Once thawed, peel and de-vein them. Set aside.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic and shrimp; sauté or 3 minutes or until shrimp are done. Remove from pan; keep warm.

Cooked, then set aside

3. Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil and chopped onion to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon garlic, pepper, basil, and oregano; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in tomato paste and lemon juice; cook 1 minute or until slightly darkened. Stir in crushed tomatoes, salt, and diced tomatoes, and chili pepper; cook 5 minutes or until thickened. Return shrimp to pan; cook for 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Sauteed onion, tomato paste, and garlic

All thickened up!

 

4. Serve on-top or alongside of your carbohydrate and/or vegetables of choice, and enjoy!

The complete plate

While you can most certainly serve this over pasta, rice, or another carbohydrate, we opted to pair ours with two sides of roasted vegetables: cauliflower and zucchini. To prepare these, I cut them in bite size pieces, sprayed my lined-cookie sheet with cooking spray, and tossed them with some sea salt, pepper, garlic salt and 1 tsp olive oil. Then, they baked at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes on each side, while I prepared the shrimp. Hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

I’m super excited to say this was a success, and even more excited to say we have leftovers. Plus, making this made me feel like I was right back at home…gotta love that!

What’s your favorite shrimp dish?

 

Seasonal Seafood: Easy Panko-Crusted Shrimp

Summer simply makes me crave seafood. So when I left work last night, I had one thing on the brain: shrimp. Rather than go the easy route and grab take-out fried shrimp at one of the zillion restaurants near my apartment, I went the healthy-route: baked panko-crusted shrimp! Trust me when I say anyone can make these. The hardest part is defrosting and de-shelling the shrimp!

Panko-Crusted Shrimp

Ingredients:
40 medium frozen shrimp
1 ½ cups Panko crumbs (white or whole wheat- I used white & seasoned mine with zesty seasoning)
1/3 cup cornstarch or flour ( I used flour)
½ cup liquid egg beaters (you could use 2 egg whites if you prefer, or just normal eggs)
*1-2 tsp. olive oil if desired

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350*.  Prepare a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, and coat with cooking spray or olive oil. Cover a large cookie sheet with tin-foil and spray with cooking spray; set aside.

2)Thaw shrimp under running water. Peel, leaving tails intact; discard shells.

3) Place panko crumbs, cornstarch, and egg mixture (make sure it’s whisked!) in 3 separate bowls.

The 3 simple steps

4) Working with 1 shrimp at a time, dip the shrimp in cornstarch or flour, shaking off excess. Then, dip in egg mixture, then dredge in panko crumbs.

5) Add shrimp to pan, one by one as you go; coat tops of shrimp with cooking spray. Cook shrimp  2 1/2 minutes on each side or until done/light pink in color. Your pan will likely fill up. So cook a batch, and place the shrimp on the cookie sheet afterward. Repeat procedure with remaining shrimp.

Into the pan they go

6)Once the shrimp are pan-cooked, place shrimp in oven for 3-5 minutes for an extra crispy coating!

Crispy-coated Baked shrimp

A great Monday meal

One of my best friend’s came over for dinner, and she loved these! I did too. I suppose I could have chosen a better night to make these (it was 95 degrees in Boston yesterday), but I don’t regret my decision at all. They were the perfect choice for a Monday dinner… I have leftovers for lunch all week!

Make these :)

Breaking out of my winter lunch-rut

I’ve been in a lunch-rut at work. Definition of lunch rut: Eating the same thing day after day for such a long period of time that it becomes a routine!

My lunch rut: Peanut butter and jelly on some sort of bread (whole wheat, cinnamon raisin, or in a tortilla), an apple, and occasionally a spinach and romaine salad. Don’t get me wrong, I love my PB&J, but I’m tired of it. With winter here, I seem to crave soup each day. Salad ingredients just aren’t as fresh or exciting in the winter. Plus, my office is always freezing, so it’s the perfect meal to warm me up mid-day.

so long summer salads, at least for now...

I bought a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store to use for a few meals this week, and first up on my list to make was chicken chili! This is a new recipe I tried from Kristin, and it’s amazing! It was super simple to make with the edition of pre-prepared chicken, and I added my own twist with the edition of corn, a red pepper, and subbed cannellini beans for black beans. The star of this recipe is the baked beans…I’d never put baked beans in a chili until now. I won’t go without them from now on, that’s for sure!

Chicken Chili

serves 6-8

Ingredients:

 

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/2 small onion, diced

Salt and pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup frozen corn

1 red pepper

1 29oz can tomato sauce

1 can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed ( or kidney, black, etc.)

1 can baked beans ( I used vegetarian)

½ rotisserie chicken, shredded

Season to taste with: Chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, red pepper flakes

2-3 Tablespoons brown sugar (optional)

Directions:1. Sauté onions and red pepper in a large pot, in olive oil and salt and pepper for 7-10 minutes on medium low. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for another 2 minutes.

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2. Add tomato sauce, corn, cannellini beans, baked beans and shredded chicken to the pot and stir to combine. Add seasonings ( I used chili powder, garlic powder, and S&P), stir to combine, turn heat up to medium and let simmer for 15 minutes.

 
3. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Top with shredded cheddar cheese.

yummy chili enjoyed in my Vegas mug!

Along with the chili, I had a side of cornbread casserole and it was the perfect accompaniment. Next time, I’m going to crumble my cornbread on the top…I recently noticed that Panera Bread advertises their new chili with cornbread croutons on the top. Can you say heaven??

Side note: This makes A LOT of chili. I’m freezing the leftovers!

What’s your favorite chili recipe?