Thursday, June 28, 2012

Healthy Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil Chicken

Lately I have had a difficult time finding easy dishes to make. Thankfully, I came across this recipe and was able to throw this together within minutes. I feel like basil and sun-dried tomatoes are staples in my kitchen and nonetheless this recipe incorporates both. This was a very light dish which was nice considering we are still in a food coma from Charleston.
Adapted from Sneaky Lemon
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 large handfuls of basil (about 15 leaves, maybe a few more)
Sun-dried tomatoes in oil (you need at least half of an 8.5 ounce jar)
1 tbsp grated parmesan
Pinch of salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the basil, sun-dried tomatoes with oil, parmesan and salt and pepper in a food processor.
Blend into a semi-thick paste. Alternatively, you can finely dice everything into a lumpy paste if you do not have a food processor.
Next, on a lined baking sheet, spread 1/3 of the paste and lay the chicken breasts on top of it. Then cover the chicken with the remainder of the paste. Place the dish in the oven for 17-20 minutes or until the chicken in baked through.
When the chicken is done, you can pair this with a salad, pasta, garlic bread, etc. etc.! You can even finish this dish off with a drizzle of balsalmic vinegar over the chicken!

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lettuce Wraps Made Easy

This recipe actually came from the trainers on the Biggest Loser. These lettuce wraps were delicious and very easy to make. I made the unfortunate mistake of serving these by themselves so we were still hungry afterwards! I think if you served these with brown rice, this would make one gratifying dinner. These would also be fun for appetizers but kind of messy, so make sure to serve them with a napkin and fork!
Adapted from Delish
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb. ground chicken breast
2 tablespoons all natural low-fat peanut butter
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons low sodium teriyaki sauce
1 small can drained water chestnuts
1/2 chopped onions
Handful of cashew nuts
4-6 leaves romaine lettuce
In a pan, heat olive oil. Add ground chicken and brown; stir occasionally to separate the meat.
Add peanut butter, soy sauce; and teriyaki sauce to the chicken until well mixed.
Add water chestnuts, onions; and cashews.
After chicken is completely brown, let simmer for about five minutes; stirring every couple of minutes. Uncover and cook until a thick consistency.
Cool and serve on large lettuce leaves.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Skinny Baked Mozzarella Bites

I originally found this on Pinterest but when I went to the recipe it linked too, the reviews were terrible. Everyone said their mozzarella bites melted to mush when they put them in the oven. I ended up searching for similar recipes and came across this one where mine turned out perfectly! Just make sure to keep your eye on them when they are cooking. Also, you have to serve these hot out of the oven otherwise you will lose that stringy goodness!

Adapted from Skinny Taste
12 sticks part-skim, reduced fat mozzarella sticks, cut into fourths
1 large egg, beaten
2 Tbsp flour
5 Tbsp Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
5 Tbsp Panko breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray your foil-lined baking sheet with nonstick spray.
Cut cheese sticks into fourths.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg. Place the flour in another small dish and in another bowl, combine the panko and italian-seasoned breadcrumbs.
Dip the cheese sticks in the flour, shaking off excess, then into the egg, then coat with the crumbs.
Repeat this process with the remaining cheese.
Spray the tops of the mozzarella sticks with a little more oil and bake in the bottom third of your oven until crisp, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and bake an additional 4-5 watching them closely to be sure they don't melt.

TIP-If your mozzarella bites melt, try freezing your cheese sticks (cut into fourths) beforehand and then dip, while still frozen, into the flour, egg and bread crumb mixture.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Jekyll Island, A Must on I-95

About an hour and fifteen minutes north of Jacksonville, off highway 95, is Jekyll Island. Jekyll Island is full of history and beautiful mansions! There is a 90 minute tram tour that you catch at the museum shop that is worthwhile.
Jekyll Island dates back to the 1800s before the Civil War. This is where all the wealthy families including the Rockefeller's, Pullitzer's, and Crane families would come to escape the long, harsh winters up North. They built these huge mansions which they travelled to by yacht or train.
After the stock market crash in 1929, the Great Depression and World War II, this island was abandoned. These predominant families never returned to get their belongings and furniture. The actual structures of the mansions were left untouched but of course everything inside the mansions was stollen. The Georgia government bought the entire property of Jekyll Island in 1947 for a mere $675,000. In order to preserve and maintain the integrity of this precious land, the Georgia government has implemented many building restrictions.

If you want to stay on Jekyll Island, the Jekyll Island Club is the place to stay! There are only a few restaurants to eat at because this island is so small.

Right outside of Jekyll Island is Brunswick, Georgia. We stopped at Twin Oaks BBQ restaurant, where all the locals go for their BBQ fixins! It was no Texas BBQ but it was good for Brunswick, Georgia.
I highly recommend taking a road trip up the Georgia coast on I-95. There are so many places to stop. I recommend taking a few hours though to visit Jekyll Island!

Our final destination after Jekyll Island was Charleston. We did not stop at Sea Island or Savannah because we had already been to both places. Anyways, I can't wait tell you about Charleston as I think it is definitely one of the neatest cities in America! It may take me a couple days to post because I have been feeling under the weather but I promise to post soon! 
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Monday, June 18, 2012

JAX aka Jacksonville, Florida

After spending one full day and night in Amelia Island, we travelled back to Jacksonville. Jacksonville is your typical big city. Besides eating and drinking, we really did not explore the city much. We had an AMAZING dinner at Orsay which is one their most renown restaurants! The foie gras appetizer was savory as well as my entree of scallops. You have to check this restaurant out if you go to Jax!
Another cool gastropub that is great if you want a greasy lunch/brunch is Kickbacks, which according to our friend is a "Jacksonville institution." Don't miss the fried green beans here!
Our friend also took us to this awesome brewery, Intuition. I highly recommend getting the sampler where you get to choose 6 different beers to try. Late night, we went to Dos Gatos which is a swanky lounge in downtown Jacksonville. The bartenders really take pride and spend a lot of time in preparing their specialty cocktails so make sure you get one of these if you visit this place!
After visiting JAX, we drove up the coast to Charleston! I can't wait to tell you about Jekyll Island, one of the places where we stopped along the way!
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Amelia Island

It has been a whirlwind of a weekend! We travelled to Florida to visit one of our good friends!! We flew into Jacksonville and drove about 45 minutes north to Amelia Island. Amelia Island is a small beach town that has a population of about 12,000 people. The beaches were beautiful. You will not find clear blue water or white, silky sand here but you will find the beaches clean and not crowded. The beaches looked a lot like the ones you find in the Hamptons.
The Ritz Carlton is definitely worth checking out if you need a place to stay or want a poolside drink in Amelia! The property was absolutely gorgeous with a perfectly manicured golf course. I had the most delicious drink ever, a Kahlua chocolate milkshake, which I enjoyed by the pool!
There is not a huge selection of restaurants on Amelia Island but we went to a casual seafood dinner on the beach at a place called Sliders. Other restaurants to note on Amelia Island are 29 South and Le Clos. Salt, which is in the Ritz Carlton, is probably the fanciest restaurant on the island which we skipped because we did not want to get dressed up after traveling all day! Amelia Island is a fun place to go if you are looking for a weekend trip or a day trip from Jacksonville. You may get bored if you stay much longer!
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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Easy Peanut Sauce

I was very hesitant about making my own peanut sauce. I knew I could buy a bottle of peanut sauce for the same price as all of the ingredients below. However, there is something satisfying about making your own sauce and knowing exactly what goes into it. Most peanut sauce recipes have fish sauce in it. YUCK! I finally found one that did not so this is going to be my go to recipe from now on!
Adapted from
5 tablespoons of reduced-fat, all natural peanut butter
3 tablespoons warm water
2.5 tablespoons of Chinese rice vinegar (found in Asian section of grocery store)
1.5 tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce
3 teaspoons white granulate sugar

Whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
For best results, refrigerate for at least 2 hours to all the flavors to blend. Before serving, thin the sauce with another tablespoon of warm water if needed. Use the peanut sauce within 3-4 days.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Shrimp Summer Rolls

I have always been intimidated to make summer rolls! I figured it would be a pain in the rear to find all of the ingredients. Little did I know that most grocery stores carry these ingredients. I found both the rice paper and rice sticks in the Asian section of the grocery store! Each roll is barely any calories and you would never know because we were full after 3 rolls! This would also be a great thing to serve at a dinner party and literally take less than 30 minutes to prepare!
Adapted from Chaos in the Kitchen
1/2 lb. small shrimp, peeled, cooked, tails removed
2 cups rice stick vermicelli noodles
Rice paper wrappers (spring roll skins)
16 large basil leaves
16 small mint leaves
1 small bunch of cilantro
1 package of shredded carrots
1 large cucumber, julienned (julienned=thinly cut cucumber slices)
Several torn lettuce leaves, Boston or butter lettuce
1 mango (optional)
Prepare your basil, mint, cilantro, lettuce by washing and setting aside. Cut your cucumber into thin, skinny slices.
Cook noodles in boiling water per package instructions, about 3 minutes, then strain and rinse under cool water.
Add warm water to a large dish or frying pan. Place one rice paper wrap in the water to soften, about 30 seconds. Do not let it curl.
On a dry surface, place the soft wrapper. Layer with a small amount of noodles, about 5 small shrimp, 2 large basil leaves, 2 small mint leaves, several pinches of fresh cilantro, shredded carrots, julienned cucumbers, and torn lettuce leaves (use only the soft part of the leaf, tear and discard the tough stem piece).
Do the same thing if you want to add mango!  
Fold the left and right sides of the wrapper over the filling in the middle, fold up the bottom of the wrapper on both ends.
Set roll aside in a dry place and continue making rolls until filling runs out. Wrappers may stick to each other and tear if you place the rolls too close together afterwards.
I served my spring rolls with a homemade peanut sauce which I will post tomorrow!!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Egg Whites, Tomatoes & Cheddar Cheese

One of my fondest memories growing up was going to breakfast with my dad before school. We went to just about every breakfast joint in town. Eggs over easy were my favorite! When I moved to college, my love for breakfast did not change. Whether living in the freshman dorms or at the sorority house, I was always the first one in line for breakfast.

It was in New York where I discovered this amazing breakfast sandwich. One of my favorite co-workers ordered this everyday from the deli across the street! I soon became addicted and would go to the corner store or "bodega" to get this $3 sandwich. Unfortunately, this exact same sandwich costs $7+ here in Texas. I knew this habit had to stop otherwise I would go broke! I finally have replicated this sandwich and it is just as delicious as the sandwich I got in New York. I promise you that once you try it, you will never want to skip breakfast again!
2-3 eggs, separated into egg whites
2 slices of whole wheat toast
2 slices of tomatoes
Slice of reduced fat cheddar cheese (I was too scared to try the fat-free cheddar)
Slice your tomatoes and cheddar cheese. Separate your egg whites from the egg yolk. Sprinkle the egg whites with salt and pepper.
Spray a nonstick pan with nonstick spray. Then, heat the pan over high heat for a few minutes. 
While the pan is heating up, toast your bread.
Add your egg whites to the hot pan.
Do not flip the egg whites until the entire mixture is white and not clear anymore. 
Once you flip the egg whites, it only needs another minute at the most and it will be cooked through.
***It took me a long time to figure out how to flip the egg whites in one uniform flip. The trick is getting it cooked through before you flip and the nonstick spray on the nonstick pan!
Layer your toast with the egg whites, cheddar cheese and tomatoes. 
Here is my sandwich...
Here is the New York sandwich I used to buy...pretty close right!?

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Midnight Cowboy

Austin now has it's very own speakeasy in one of the most unlikely places. If you have ever been to Austin, then you know 6th street is bustling with bars and dance clubs. You have West 6th Street which is a little more classier than East 6th Street, aka "Dirty 6th."

And yes, "Dirty 6th" is where this reservations-only speakeasy lies. Midnight Cowboy is the latest venture from the guys behind Alamo Drafthouse. You would never know that this place used to be a shady massage parlor. In order to enter Midnight Cowboy, look for the red light at 313 East 6th Street, next to 311! Then, there is a panel of names to the left of the door where you push the buzzer marked "Harry Craddock." You will then be greeted by the hostess who will seat your party.
Space is limited here but they have a few party rooms that can accommodate up to 8 guests. Honestly, we felt this room could fit six comfortably and 8 would have been cramped. Anyways, I loved the exposed brick wall in this room!
The menu is filled with a wide range of specialty cocktails where you will have a new appreciation for mixology. Make sure someone in your group orders a cocktail with the infinity sign next to it. This means that the drink is prepared table-side on a fancy bar cart!
The only con about this place is that there is a 2 drink minimum as well as 2 hour limit per reservation. If your table or room is available past the 2 hour window, then they will let you stay but the chances of this are slim to none!!! 

I think this is a great place to go if you are not from Austin or if you live in Austin and want to try some place different! I'm a huge fan and am always happy to see unique places like this pop up in Austin!
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Friday, June 8, 2012

Skinny Blueberry Limeade

Last week I made three different things from Pinterest and all of them were a bust. However, this drink makes up for all the misses last week. I LOVED this refreshing drink and next time I am going to double the recipe because we drank this blueberry goodness in one sitting. This recipe makes enough for 3 drinks.
Adapted from US Masala
1 cup+few garnish of fresh blueberries
1/2 cup (packed) basil leaves
12-15 packets of Sweet 'N Low or Splenda (you can also substitute 1/2 cup sugar)
3/4 cup water
Juice from 5 limes
2 cups or more of sparkling water
To make the blueberry syrup, combine blueberries, Sweet 'N Low, basil and water in a sauce pan.
Before  heating, use the back of a wooden spoon to press down the blueberries (or muddle the berries).
Simmer on medium heat until the Sweet 'N Low is dissolved, about 8 minutes.
Cool, STRAIN the syrup in a bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour. Discard the strained basil and muddled berries.
Squeeze your lime juice into a pitcher.
Add your blueberry simple syrup and sparkling water as well in that same pitcher and stir. You may want to add another cup or two of sparkling water depending on how sweet you like your limeade.
Pour over ice filled glasses and garnish with lime wedges, basil and blueberries! Enjoy!
  • If you do not have sparkling water, you can substitute with chilled water but I think the carbonation makes this drink!
  • Also, if you feel inclined, add some vodka, wine or rum and you will have one tasty cocktail.
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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Peach & Basil Pizza

You can't go wrong making this pizza either. This pizza incorporates all fresh ingredients as you can see from the ingredient list below.
Adapted from Jen Goes to College
Your favorite pizza dough
2 tablespoons olive oil
Roughly 3 handfuls of arugula
1 large handful of basil, chopped
2 medium peaches, cut into thin wedges
Fresh mozzarella cheese
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Balsamic vinegar (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Slice your peaches, mozzarella cheese and basil.
Spray your baking sheet with nonstick spray before adding the pizza dough.
Roll out your pizza dough as thinly as possible without tearing onto the pan. Drizzle 1 Tbsp of olive oil over the pizza.
Evenly layer peaches, mozzarella and half the basil over pizza. 
Top with half of the arugula. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle remaining olive oil over the top.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is browned and crust is evenly golden. Top with remaining basil and arugula and serve immediately!
*I would serve the balsamic vinegar on the side because my husband did not think the pizza needed it! Pin It
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