Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tuscan Lemon Chicken

Nothing beats a good ole' grilled chicken. In the past, most of my marinades have called for soy sauce so I decided to try something completely different and it worked! I used a whole chicken, cut into pieces for this recipe. I am not sure how this recipe would turn out if you used all chicken breasts. Let me know if you try it though!
Adapted from Ina Garten
1 (3 pound) chicken, flattened (make sure the back bone is removed, ask your butcher or endure the tedious task yourself)
Kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons of grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary
1 lemon, halved
Fresh ground pepper
Generously season both sides of the chicken with kosher salt.
Combine the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary and 1 teaspoon of pepper in a large glass dish.
Add the chicken and turn to coat. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, turning once or twice.
When ready to grill, turn a gas grill to low heat. First, cook the chicken with the skin side up for 12-15 minutes, then turn and cook for another 12-15 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and the chicken is cooked all the way through. We actually cooked our chicken for 15 minutes on one side and 20 minutes the other. Use your best judgment depending on how big your chicken pieces are. Place the lemon halves, cut side down, on the grill for the last 10 minutes of cooking (I forgot to cook the lemons). Remove the chicken and lemon halves to a plate and cover with aluminum foil. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
This chicken turned out very moist and flavorful. The skin was delicious but I did not to eat too much as I am trying to be health-conscious. I served this chicken with a salad and wild rice. By the way, I did not forget about the recipe for the sweet potato fries that I mentioned yesterday! It is coming, I promise! Pin It

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tomato-Parsley Sauce Mussels

I have to say, for homemade mussels, these were pretty darn good! The tomatoes added a nice touch to the sauce. After you make these, it will make you sick to your stomach how much restaurants charge for a 1/3 of the serving of mussels. I bought a 2 pound bag of mussels at the local grocery store for $11. FYI, Central Market usually has the bags of mussels cheaper. As I have said in the past, make sure you thoroughly clean the shell as this will remove that fishy taste.
Semi-Adapted from Martha Stewart
2 lbs mussels, scrubbed and debearded
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes, including juice
1 Tbsp of olive oil
1/4 cup dry white white

Scrub and debeard all of the mussels under cold water. You will notice on some of the mussels that there is a hairy covering and that is what I refer to as the "beard" of the mussel. Make sure you remove this part.
Stir all of the ingredients together except for the mussels in a bowl. Then, heat this tomato mixture over medium heat for  5 minutes.
Add the mussels and cover the pan, cooking until all of the shells are open, for no more than 5 minutes.
I served this with sweet potato fries (see tomorrow's recipe) and crusty bread to dip into the sauce. This was more than enough for two people. Pin It

Monday, February 27, 2012

Wedding Cake

This weekend I went to a fabulous wedding! I had to share with you the one picture I took of their spectacular wedding cake. It was a sight to see. I loved everything about it from the design on it to the flowers encircling it! They did everything right with this cake!
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Garlic Bread

It does not take a genius to figure out how to cook garlic bread. However, I did not want to use butter on my garlic bread so it took a little researching to find a good alternative. This bread was the perfect accompaniment to the eggplant.
1 small loaf of french bread
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp of olive oil
Kosher salt
Parmesan cheese

Set your oven to broil (on high) and allow it to preheat.
Slice your loaf of bread in half.
Saute your garlic and olive oil over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.
After you finish cooking the garlic and olive oil, use a spoon to spread the mixture over each half of the bread. Sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt over each half of bread and top with as little or as much parmesan cheese as you would like.
Place in the oven for no more than 1-2 minutes. It will burn fast if you are not careful!
My husband was amazed that I did not use any garlic powder because the bread was so flavorful. I  credit this to large amount of fresh garlic I used!
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Light Eggplant Parmesan

I may not be Italian, but I love Italian food! I cooked this yesterday and pizza the day before yesterday! I find that most Italian recipes are extremely bad for you. I am trying to be mindful of this and adjust the recipes to make them more heart healthy while not taking away flavor. This recipe is a keeper! Thanks mom!
1 eggplant (this recipe actually calls for 2 eggplants but 1 is more than enough for 2 people)
3 large egg whites (more if needed)
3 tablespoons of water
1/2 cup dry italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 cups prepared Marinara sauce (25 ounce jar)
1/3 cup slivered fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Mozzarella cheese (I used fresh mozzarella, cut into slices but you can use shredded mozzarella too)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil two large baking sheets and set aside.
Slice the eggplants crosswise into a little less than 1/2 inch thick slices.
In a bowl, whisk the egg whites and water until frothy. Set aside.
In a shallow dish, combine the breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup of the parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
One at a time, dip the eggplant slices into the egg-white mixture and then coat both sides with the breadcrumbs.
Arrange the slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets (sprayed with nonstick oil spray).
Bake for 20 minutes, then flip each eggplant slice and cook for 15 more minutes or until golden brown.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the marinara, basil and red pepper flakes.
Spread about 1/2 cup of the sauce over the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
When the eggplant is done, arrange the slices over the sauce, overlapping them slightly. Spoon 1 cup of the remaining sauce over the eggplant, then top with the mozzarella.
Top with the remaining sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses (it will look as if there is not enough sauce, but it's great!). Bake, uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the top is browned, 25-30 minutes.
This is great served over pasta or with a side salad. I thought the eggplant was just as delicious the next day for leftovers!
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Prosciutto & Portobello Mushroom Pizza

This pizza was scrumptious! My husband and I gobbled up every piece. As always, I used the Central Market multigrain pizza dough as my base. It is my favorite because it cooks with that perfect crisp!
Semi-Adapted from Curtis Stone (I made a few changes)
Pizza dough
1/2 cup homemade pesto (or store bought)
2 portobello mushrooms
3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
6 marinated artichoke hearts, quartered and cut in half lengthwise
6 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into pieces
4 thin slices of prosciutto
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh arugula
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Place the portobello mushrooms on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle 1 tsp of olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt over mushrooms. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender and exude their juices. Cool the mushroom then cut it into 3/4" slices.
Using another lined baking sheet, form your pizza dough to the shape of the pan.
Spread a thin layer of pesto on the pizza dough.
Arrange the mushroom strips and artichokes over the pesto. Sprinkle with pieces of fresh mozzarella cheese.
Place the pizza in the oven and bake according to your pizza directions or until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven. Drape the prosciutto over the pizza. Scatter arugula over the pizza and drizzle with the remaining teaspoons of olive oil.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hip Tips is Live

For Valentine's Day, I got the sweetest gift from my husband. He got me my own domain name! I am still figuring out all the perks to owning my own domain, but for you, the reader, it will be much easier for you to find my website. You no longer have to type blogspot in the web address. I have redirected everything from my old address to my new one in case you are used to typing the old one in! Here is my official website:

By having my own website, I can now reach out to a larger population and hopefully get more followers and subscribers! I am really excited to share this with you and I hope you can help me spread the word to all of your friends and family!

Also, I have one more announcement to make. On Saturday, I finally entered the 21st century and got an iPhone! After my printed directions failed to get me to where I needed to be on Friday, I decided it was time. It is embarrassing how many times I have had to go into gas stations and ask for directions because I am lost! I hope these days are over with the purchase of my new iPhone! I am also ecstatic to have my own phone to take pictures with! Look at yesterday's "Taco Soup" post.  The first three pictures on the post were taken with my camera and the last one was taken with my husband's iPhone. It is amazing to me that this phone can take better pictures than my Canon camera.

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Taco Soup

If you google "healthy taco soup," you will get hundreds of different versions. I incorporated different elements from a few of the recipes to come up with my own version! I was worried that this soup was going to taste almost exactly like my chili or tortilla soup but it actually had its own flavor! The taco seasoning and ranch dressing mix are the key ingredients that make this soup so tasty. Both of these seasonings are high in sodium which is why I bought the "no salt added" diced tomatoes and black beans. I also used water instead of broth to balance out the saltiness.
1 lb Lean Ground Turkey
1 large white onion, chopped
1 15 ounce can black beans (no salt added), rinsed and drained
1 15 ounce can fat-free refried beans
1 15 ounce can chili beans (use liquid)
1 15 ounce can low sodium whole corn (use liquid)
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes (use liquid)
1 10 ounce can Rotel (use liquid)
1 1/2 cups of water
1 package of taco seasoning (I prefer McCormick's Taco Seasoning)
1 package ranch dressing mix
3 fresh garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
For Garnish (optional)
Fat-free sour cream (This is a must!)
Baked tortilla chips
Fat-free shredded cheddar cheese (I usually am not a fan of fat-free cheese but for some reason it tasted like the real deal in this soup.)
Saute onion and garlic in 1 tbsp of olive oil for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, add the ground turkey and cook until brown. Drain any fat and water that may have accumulated after cooking the turkey, onions and garlic.
Return turkey, onions and garlic to a large soup pot. First, add the ranch dressing mix and taco seasoning and stir so that all of the ground turkey is seasoned.
Now, over low heat, add the rest of the ingredients (black beans, refried beans, chili beans, corn, diced tomatoes, rotel, water). Your soup will be thick, especially with the refried beans, but it will thin as you simmer over low heat for an hour! You can always add more water if you like a thinner soup. This is a super easy recipe that takes less than 30 minutes to make and is perfect to throw together after a long day of work!
Make sure you garnish your soup with cilantro, sour cream, cheese and baked tortilla chips. These toppings really make this soup yummy!
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ipod Nano Update

Look what I got in the mail last Friday! I told myself I could not workout without music so after a 2 month hiatus of not exercising, I am out of excuses! Anyways, my new nano is smaller than a sugar packet. Crazy!
Now that I have my new ipod, I need the accessories. I am obsessed with these watch bands that you place your ipod in. Not only can this nano act as a watch but it also can play the radio! I love the radio so you can imagine my excitement when I discovered this feature on the new nano!
If you are contemplating sending your ipod in, I can say with 100% confidence that you should. Check here for the instructions.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Seared Scallops

Scallops were on sale last week so it was the perfect excuse for me to buy them especially because I love them so much. Even though they were on sale, they were still expensive so I only bought three in case I ruined them. Last year when I cooked scallops, I overcooked them and they tasted awful. Fortunately this time I was able to sear my scallops to perfection! I adjusted this recipe as 3 scallops is not enough for 2 people!
6 scallops
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper
Wash your scallops with cool water. If you use warm water, you will prematurely start cooking the scallops which you do not want to do! After you wash your scallops, set them aside on a paper towel and let dry for 10 minutes.
While the scallops are drying, place your olive oil in a skillet and get the pan super hot! When I say super hot, I mean your pan should almost be smoking. Make sure you have the vent on over the stove and make sure you open the doors to ventilate!
***Do not use a nonstick pan because it takes longer to heat and chemicals tend to leach out of this type of pan when you get it this hot.

Season the scallops with a pinch (no more) of salt and pepper. Using tongs, place the scallops in the sizzling hot pan. Do not overcrowd the pan with scallops. Make sure there is space in between each of the scallops. Cook the scallops for no longer than 2 minutes on each side. This is very important because it is very easy to overcook scallops.
This is what the scallops should look like when you flip them after two minutes!
If you cook your scallops following these exact directions, you will get that perfect sear and brown edge on the scallop which makes them so delicious! Scallops are great served over couscous! I was so excited to eat my scallops that I forgot about presentation, hence the ugly picture and my terrible plating job!
FYI: I had a difficult time cleaning my pan when I finished cooking these suckers! I found that a scrubbing brush, baking soda, and hot water did the trick and made my pan look brand new!

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Butterscotch Rice Krispie Treats

My husband and I had the best dessert in Park City, Utah! We savored every bite and I knew right away that I could replicate that exact dessert. These butterscotch rice krispie treats are to die for! If I had the choice between a chocolate or butterscotch topping, of course I would choose chocolate. However, the combination of rice krispies and butterscotch in this recipe seem to compliment each other very well and definitely kick this classic recipe up a notch!
3 Tbsp Margarine or Butter (I used "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter")
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 10 ounce package of Marshmallows
7 Cups Rice Krispies
1+1/2 Cups butterscotch morsels
Spray a large pyrex casserole dish with nonstick pam.
In a large pot, melt butter and brown sugar.
Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Make sure you do not burn the marshmallow mixture.
Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Then, mix your rice krispies until well-coated.
Lastly, fold in 1 cup of butterscotch morsels.
Transfer immediately to the pyrex dish because you do not want all of the butterscotch morsels to melt!
The mixture will be very sticky but try to evenly spread out the mixture in the casserole dish. 
Place in the freezer for 10 minutes. Once the mixture has cooled, remove the rice krispie treats from the freezer and finish forming the mixture to fit the casserole dish. 
***If you want to shape the rice krispie mixture into a heart or a fun shape, this would be the time to do it.  For all you last minute planners, this would be the perfect Valentine's Day dessert to surprise your significant other with!
Lastly, top the rice krispies with the remaining 1/2 cup of butterscotch morsels. You can push the morsels into the rice krispies so they will stay better!
I promise you this is most addicting and delicious sweet you will ever make!
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Monday, February 13, 2012

Lobster Tails

Do you have plans for Valentine's Day? If you want to cook and skip the prix fixed and overpriced meals at every restaurant, I have the perfect meal for you! You can cook your own lobster dinner for two for under $30! Right now, Canadian lobster tails are on sale at Central Market for $5.99/each. My husband and I could have eaten 1 more lobster tail so if you are cooking for two, plan on getting at least 2 tails for each person.

Adapted from Taste of Home
3-4 lobster tails
1 cup water
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/8 teaspoon salt
dash pepper
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Lemon wedges

Clean lobster tails with lemon juice. Not only will this remove the fishy smell but it will also add a touch of flavor.
On the belly of the lobster, cut a slit down the middle, making sure not to pierce the lobster meat.
Using your hands, open the lobster up from the middle, loosening the "cartilage". Then, use the scissors to remove this cartilage. You can use your hands as well but the edges of the lobster tend to be sharp so I like to use scissors.
Once you remove the cartilage, loosen the entire lobster meat from the shell. This will make it easier for you to eat the lobster after you cook it.
Pour 1 cup of water into a pyrex casserole dish; place lobster tails inside dish.
Sprinkle the parsley, salt and pepper on top of the lobster tails. Melt the butter in the microwave then add the lemon juice. Drizzle or brush each lobster tail with the butter and lemon juice mixture.
Bake, uncovered at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until meat is firm and opaque.
Serve with leftover lemon butter mixture. You can also pair these lobster tails with corn on the cob, asparagus and/or wild rice, all of which are very easy to make! Pin It

Friday, February 10, 2012

Best Way to Cut a Pomegranate

I can't tell you how many You Tube videos I have watched to find the best way to peel a pomegranate! After months of trying different ways, I finally found the easiest and cleanest way to remove seeds from a pomegranate. I used to dread peeling pomegranates not only because it took forever but inevitably I would always mess up a shirt. I have finally mastered this skill so I hope you find this "how to" guide handy! 

First, remove the top and bottom of the pomegranate. Be careful when cutting the pomegranate because the juice of this fruit will stain almost anything it comes in contact with.
Then, score 4 sides of the pomegranate using a knife. You should cut through the red lining until you hit the pith, or white membrane, which is right beneath the red exterior. You do not cut all the way through the pomegranate.
Place the pomegranate in a large bowl of water. Break apart the pomegranate into 4 sections along where you made the cuts in the previous step. It is important to do this as much under water as possible so that the juices do not squirt all over you!
After you separate the four pieces of the pomegranate, start peeling away the membrane from the seeds. Again, this should be done under water.
The seeds will sink to the bottom and the white membrane will float to the top.
Check out the separation of the seeds and membranes!
Remove the membranes by hand, then drain the seeds in a strainer, removing any excess membrane left on the seeds.
Store in a glass bowl in the refrigerator.
That's it! You can do this in less than 5-10 minutes!
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