Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat


HAPPY HALLOWEEN from me and Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction)!
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, the worst candies you can serve kids are those that are sticky/chewy (gummy bears, taffy, tootsie rolls) because they get stuck in between children’s teeth and can eventually lead to tooth decay. A good alternative to these candies are sugar-free lollipops and hard candy.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

After working 13 hours, it is hard to find the energy to cook. However, we did not want to go out to eat because the World Series was on! I picked up salmon and could not resist buying this head of broccoli that was on sale for 0.86 cents! I remembered Ina Garten's recipe for roasted broccoli and put it to the test. I modified the recipe because I did not have all of the ingredients and her recipe feeds an army while this serves only 2.
Ingredients
1 large head of Broccoli
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp lemon zest
1/3 lemon
1/3 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Wash your broccoli and dry thoroughly. If you do not dry the broccoli well, it will dry it out! This is a picture of the broccoli before I cut the stalk down.
Cut the broccoli from the stalk, leaving 1-2 inches of the stalk attached to the broccoli florets. Cut the larger pieces in half vertically.
Place the broccoli florets on a lined sheet pan.
Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with olive oil (about 3 tbsp). I eyeballed it and sprinkled with salt and pepper.
Roast for 20-25 minutes until some of the florets turn brown.
***Check the broccoli after 10 minutes and shake the pan to move the broccoli around.
After removing from the oven, immediately toss with lemon zest, the juice from 1/3 lemon and parmesan cheese. If the broccoli is dry, add some olive oil to taste! Serve hot.
The ingredients I did not have that Ina Garten included in her recipe are pine nuts and basil. This sounds delicious but since I modified the recipe to serve only 2 people, I do not know how much of either ingredient you should add. You can find her recipe in its entirety on the food network website if you want to add either of these ingredients.


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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tying a Scarf for Fall

I love this step by step guide on how to tie a scarf. Lucky magazine had a similar spread about tying a scarf a few months ago. Unless you live in California or Colorado, I think it is way too hot to wear a scarf during the summer. I think the fall and winter are ideal times to wear scarves so hopefully this guide will come in handy if you did not already see this article in Lucky!


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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

More Bridal Shower Ideas...

For those of you who do not know, my best friend got married this past weekend! At the bridal luncheon, we played these cute games! What a brilliant idea and I loved the set up of each of these games. Sorry for the blurry pictures but hopefully you get the idea of these games!

The first game was "He Says, She Says" and you circle who you think said each statement. For example, one of the statements was "I want to watch Chevy Chase's Christmas Vacation as a family every December."  This definitely came from the bride if you are wondering. Anyways, at the very end, the person who circled the most right won!
The second game was "Shower Libs". Remember Mad Libs books from your childhood? It is the same concept where you fill in the blanks with an adjective, noun, etc. These "Shower Libs" were specifically designed for the bride and groom! These turned out hilarious and will be some great reading material on their honeymoon!

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tasty Tortilla Soup

Tortilla soup is a staple for the winter. Unfortunately, I feel like it is never going to be winter here considering it was almost 90 degrees yesterday. I like to make this soup a day ahead of time because it is always more flavorful the next day!
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups carrot, diced
1 1/2 cups celery, diced
1 cup white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic or 2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 rotisserie chicken with skin removed and pulled into pieces
5 (14 ounce cans) chicken broth (always have extra cans available in case more is needed)
***If you use reduced sodium chicken broth make sure to taste the soup before serving. You may need to add more salt.
2 (15 ounce) cans diced tomatoes (plain or with green pepper and celery)-(USE LIQUID)
2 (10 ounce) cans mild Rotel tomatoes & chilis, diced (USE LIQUID)
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander (this makes it delicious!)
1 small bunch of cilantro (flowers only)
1 can of black beans, rinsed
2 cups of whole kernel frozen corn (will thaw in the soup)
For Garnish
Baked scoop tortilla chips
1/3 fat Monterrey Jack cheese
Directions
In a large pot, saute the first 5 ingredients (carrots, celery, onion, garlic, olive oil) until tender which takes about 10 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer under a low boil for at least 30 minutes.
Stir occasionally to keep from sticking.
Garnish with the shredded Monterrey Jack cheese and crunched tortilla chips. You can also add guacamole if you so desire.
This recipe makes a lot of soup so I like to freeze the leftovers. You can also serve this soup with tamales and mexican rice. YUM! Pin It

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Holiday Decorations

Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah will be here before you know it. Check out these amazing menorahs that I found here in Houston. Which one is your favorite?
1.
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5.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Genius Bib

I am in baby mode because my sister-in-law just had a baby girl! I found this bib in Thailand and bought it in anticipation for my little niece. There are other "knockoff" versions of this bib made here in the United States. You can also order this bib online from amazon.com. Based on the reviews I read about this bib, everyone loves it. Here is why:
It is BPA-free.
It lasts for years because it can easily be washed.
It can hold a fork and spoon in the storage case and the storage case also functions as a holder to catch the food of a messy toddler.
I mean seriously, who wouldn't want this bib??? As you can tell, I think this bib is brilliant so now all I need is a kid. NO WORRIES, that will not be for a long time but at least I have a niece to buy cute stuff for!

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Fall Flats

These are my go-to shoes this fall. For those of you who were wondering what I bought for myself in Thailand, I got these shoes plus a few scarves! It may not be a custom-made suit like my husband got but I think these shoes from the street market are pretty stylish!
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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hearty Chicken Pot Pie

Who knew chicken pot pie could be healthy and still delicious? I made a few simple changes to my best friend's mom's recipe. This is comfort food at its best. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my husband and I enjoyed it last night.
Yield-4 servings
Ingredients
2 Tsp of Olive Oil
1 Cup chopped white onion
1/3 Cup flour
1+3/4 Cups reduced sodium chicken broth
2/3 Cup skim milk (of course you can use whole milk or 1%)
3/4 Rotisserie chicken with skin removed and peeled into pieces (the more white meat the better)
1/2 Cup frozen peas
3 Sliced carrots
3 Sliced celery stalks
3 Small red potatoes (cubed)
8 Ounce container of sliced mushrooms
2 Pie crusts (Pillsbury All-ready Pie Crust)
***This is a picture of how I like to slice my vegetables!
Directions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Remove the pie crusts from the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to a large pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add carrots, celery, and onions and cook until the vegetables soften. Make sure to stir the vegetables while they are cooking so they do not burn. I let my vegetables cook for about 10 minutes.
While the vegetables are cooking, heat the cubed potatoes and mushrooms in the microwave in separate bowls for 3 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. It may take a lot longer to cook the potatoes depending on how big your potato cubes are.
Drain any excess water from the vegetables that may have accumulated after the vegetables cooked. Then, set aside when finished.
Return to your carrots, celery and onions and add the milk and flour. Your stove should still be on medium-high heat.
Gradually add the chicken broth and stir constantly. Bring to a boil and stir the mixture until thick.
Finally, add the potatoes, mushrooms, frozen peas and chicken and stir.
Spray your pie or pyrex dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Place one crust on the bottom, then fold in your filling and top with the other crust.
Make sure you cut slits in the top of the crust for ventilation.
Bake at 425 degrees until the crust is brown, 30-35 minutes.
To make this recipe even healthier, use only the top of the crust. I love the crust so much though that it is not worth it to me! 
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Colander

You may ask, what makes this colander so great?
1. It's PLASTIC which makes for easy clean up. 
2. It's dishwasher safe.
3. The small size allows you to wash vegetables and fruits and store them in the refrigerator with a paper towel underneath them.
4. They come in other sizes but this size is my personal favorite. However, I think I am going to have to invest in the larger size for the days when I make an entire package of pasta!
4. They come in fun colors!
5. At $3 each, they are a steal. If I calculated how many times I used these divided by how much they cost, I think I would break even.
You can purchase these colanders at any HEB Grocery Store that carries kitchen appliances. If you do not have an HEB grocery store near you, I have seen similar ones at TJ MAXX.

DO NOT WASTE $35 on a METAL OXO GRIP COLANDER. THEY ARE TOO BIG AND IMPOSSIBLE TO CLEAN. THE RESIDUE FROM PASTA ALWAYS GETS STUCK IN THE HOLES OF THE COLANDER. Pin It

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bow Tie Pesto Pasta

This is one of many recipes that you can use pesto for! I got this recipe from the wonderful blog, "The Little Kitchen That Could" but I tweaked it to make it healthier. 
Yield-4 servings
Ingredients
3/4 14.5 ounce bag of multigrain bow tie pasta (also called farfalle)
1/2 cup homemade pesto (store bought pesto will work too, Buitoni has a great pesto)
10 ounce container of cherry tomatoes, quartered
3/4 cup light crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
Kosher salt and pepper
Olive oil to taste
DIRECTIONS
Toast the pine nuts either in a toaster oven (~3 minutes) or regular oven at 400 degrees. Check the pine nuts frequently to make sure they do not burn. Remove the pine nuts from the oven and set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta well to remove the excess water. 
Pour the pasta into a large bowl and stir in the pesto.

Add the cherry tomatoes and feta. Season with salt and pepper. This is what the cherry tomatoes should look like when quartered.
If the pasta seems dry, you can add olive oil to your liking.
You can serve this pasta hot or cold. 
Enjoy! Pin It

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bobby Pins 101

Did you know that bobby pins should be worn with the wavy edge against your head? Apparently I have been putting my bobby pins in wrong for 20+ years. I had an epiphany yesterday when someone posted this to Pinterest.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fresh Basil Pesto

I scoured the internet for the best pesto recipe. To my surprise, almost every recipe was the same. What I love about pesto is that it will keep for over a month if you put it in an air tight container in the freezer. You can use pesto on almost anything.
Ingredients
2 cups fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp of toasted pine nuts (BEWARE-pine nuts are EXPENSIVE)
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
Directions
First, place your pine nuts on foil. Toast your pine nuts in a toaster oven or convection oven until the pine nuts turn golden brown. This usually takes about 2 minutes. Remember, the pine nuts will continue to cook after you remove them from the toaster oven so be careful not to burn them.
Next, combine basil, pine nuts, garlic, and salt in a food processor.
I prefer to use a mini food processor because it is easier to clean up. Grind the ingredients for a few seconds until mixed. Slowly add olive oil and blend thoroughly.
Place pesto in a bowl and add the freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Stir the parmesan cheese into the pesto.
Add pepper to taste and extra salt if needed.
You can store the pesto in the refrigerator for a few weeks or you can freeze it for over a month. Do not add the parmesan if you freeze it. You can add the parmesan after the pesto thaws.
I can't wait to share with you all the different ways I use pesto!!!
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Garlic Shrimp with Orzo and Feta Cheese

This recipe is a keeper. It came from my Aunt's friend's cookbook, "Cooking with Class." I have never bought nor cooked orzo before so this was a first for me. For those of you who are not familiar with orzo, it is a type of pasta. This recipe serves 4 so cut the recipe in half if you want to make it for two otherwise you will have tons of leftover!

Ingredients
1 lb of FRESH shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tbsp of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 lb orzo (cooked according to package directions)
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
3-4 oz of light feta cheese or goat cheese
I used half of this package of orzo.
Peel and devein your shrimp unless you can find a supermarket that sells fresh shrimp already peeled and deveined.
Boil water for orzo.
After you bring the water to a boil, add the orzo and a large clove of garlic cut in half. Cook according to the package directions. My orzo cooked for 8 minutes on medium-high heat.
While you are cooking the orzo, pour olive oil into a large skillet on medium-high heat and add the shrimp.
Cook the shrimp for 1 minute on each side or until the shrimp turns pink.
Add the garlic and drained tomatoes.
By this time your orzo should be done cooking. Drain the orzo, removing the garlic cloves, and add to the skillet with shrimp and tomatoes.
Just before serving, add the feta cheese (or goat cheese), basil and pepper. You want to add the cheese right before serving otherwise it will melt. Also make sure to taste the pasta before serving because you may need to add more salt.

***An important tip to remember is feta cheese is salty so do not add salt until after you add the feta. Also if you choose to use goat cheese, it will make this recipe creamier rather than saltier. I used feta because my husband does not like goat cheese but I bet goat cheese would be delish!!! Pin It

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gazpacho Made Easy

Gazpacho makes for a great snack as well as appetizer. Everything in this recipe is nutritious. This recipe is full of tomatoes which are high in lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant which helps protect against cancer and various other diseases. This gazpacho recipe originated from Ina Garten however I made a few changes to her recipe to make it even better!
Ingredients
1 cucumber (halved and seeded but not peeled)
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
3 roma tomatoes and 3 vine tomatoes (you can get whatever variation you want, roma tomatoes are smaller than vine tomatoes)
1 red onion
3-4 garlic cloves (if you like garlic, then use 4)
3 cups of low sodium tomato juice
1/4 cup white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Coarsely chop cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes and red onions. Below is a picture of what coarsely chopped tomatoes and pepper look like. You cut the vegetables rather largely because the food processor and blender will do the work for you.
Below is a picture of the red bell peppers chopped.
Put each vegetable separately into the food processor or blender and pulse it until it is coarsely chopped.
This is a picture of what the cucumber looked like before and after it was blended.
After each vegetable is processed, scoop it into a large bowl.
Once you have processed all of the vegetables and put them into the bowl, add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Mix well with a spoon and chill before serving.
You can garnish the finished product with sliced avocados and serve in a martini or shot glass! Yum! Pin It

Monday, October 3, 2011

Guiltless Mashed Potatoes

After going out to dinner for 3+ weeks, I am trying to cook things that are somewhat healthy. I made these mashed potatoes to go with our meatloaf last week. There is not much to this recipe hence why these mashed potatoes are so healthy.
Ingredients
3 large new potatoes
4 peeled cloves of fresh garlic
5 Tbsp of skim milk
2 Tbsp of "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter"
Garlic salt and pepper to taste

Under cold water, thoroughly wash the potatoes.
Cut the new potatoes in half and place into a medium-sized pot with the 4 whole garlic cloves.
Cover the potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes on medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes. You will know the potatoes are done if you can easily pierce the potato with a fork.
Once the potatoes finish cooking, drain the water and use a potato masher or fork to mash the potatoes and garlic up.
Slowly add your 5 Tbsp of milk and 2 Tbsp of "butter".
Sprinkle the garlic salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Make sure to taste the potatoes before serving! If the potatoes are too thick, add more milk to make the mashed potatoes creamier.
The secret ingredients in this recipe are the whole garlic cloves. I think you can never have too much garlic so feel free to add more than the recipe calls for. Obviously if you want more savory mashed potatoes, you can substitute cream or half and half for the milk and use real butter. Personally I do not think it is worth the extra cholesterol and fat!!
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