Recipe Swap: Artichoke Salad

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I don't think this salad wanted me to make it. Monday morning I pulled out the steak for dinner. I ended up not getting home until late and we had just picked up something to eat. Yesterday I came home with the intent to make the steak and the salad and found that the steak, although sitting in the front of the fridge, was still completely frozen. Since this needed to be posted by today, I gave up on the steak and decided to make the salad without it.

It definitely wouldn't be a hearty enough salad to substitute as a meal without it though.

Artichoke  Salad
Source: Taste of Home from Jenna (MovieGirl03)
Servings: 1
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Ingredients:
    • 1 cup spinach leaves, torn
    • 4 button mushrooms, sliced
    • 5 cherry tomatoes
    • 1 thin slice red onion
    • 2 marinated artichoke hearts, sliced
    Dressing:
    • 1 tsp. olive oil
    • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
    • 1/4 tsp. oregano
    • 1/4 tsp. rosemary
    • 1/4 tsp. minced garlic
    • 1 pinch each of sugar, salt and pepper

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, combine together the ingredients for the dressing.
2. In a larger bowl, add the salad ingredients. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.

Even without the steak, I thought this was pretty good. I'm not a huge fan of the taste of artichokes but I think if the steak had been in the salad it would have been a nice accompaniment. I do plan on making this again and the only change I'd make is to saute the mushrooms first, I'm not a big fan of uncooked mushrooms.

Weekly Menu 6/26 - 7/1

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Another weekend is practically over and again, I have no idea where it went. I came home Friday to find that Tom had washed clothes and the sheets and had cleaned the bathroom. An hour long burst of energy completed the rest of the cleaning for me.

On Saturday I had planned on waking up early, going to the grocery store and then going to my mom's to hang out by the pool. I ended up waking up much later than expected and made a very un-Nichole decision. I've always been one of those people who gets everything they need to done first and then spends the rest of the day relaxing or having fun. This time I decided that the grocery store would still be there when we got back and promptly put on my bathing suit and headed to my moms.

Of course, the sun decided to play a game of hide and seek behind the clouds and I'm no less pale than before I left for my moms. We still had a good time though.

Sunday - baked crab rangoons with veggie egg rolls

Monday - stuffed fajitas with Mexican rice and corn

Tuesday - chicken and mushrooms with a garlic wine sauce

Wednesday - corn fritters

Thursday - seared scallops over pasta with sesame green beans

Friday - possibly pizza

I'm off work this Friday as I quickly learned attempting to drive up 95 on the Friday before a holiday weekend isn't just a pain in the ass, its damn near impossible. My absolute favorites are the minivans full of kids in the left lane, driving 50 mph in a 65. Can you tell that I absolutely detest traffic?

I'm not quite sure yet what we plan on doing for the Fourth of July weekend. My mom is having a pool party on the 2nd so we may go there since my aunt and cousin are going or we may go to the beach and stay with Tom's parents. If we go to the beach, I'd really like to see my aunt but the traffic to get from Tom's parents house to hers will probably be a nightmare. Decisions, decisions!

Sesame Green Beans

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Have I mentioned that I always have a hard time coming up with side dishes? I think its partially because growing up side dishes always equaled a starch plus a vegetable. When I came across the recipe for Cashew Beef, Taste of Home was kind enough to provide me with a suggested side dish.


Sesame Green Beans
Source: Taste of Home, June & July 2011, p. 43
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 1 lb. green beans
    • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
    • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
    • 1 tbsp. sesame seeds
    • 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
    • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 425. Lightly spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Combine the green beans and red pepper in a medium bowl. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and rice wine vinegar. Toss to coat.
3. Bake for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I thought these had a great flavor and went together perfectly with the Cashew Beef.

Cashew Beef

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I came across this recipe in the Taste of Home magazine I received. I think I've mentioned before that our options for Chinese food up here in the middle of no where, MD are slim pickin's. So I'm always looking for recipes that are typically found on Chinese food menus.

This recipe definitely did not disappoint! I've never cooked with oyster sauce before but I realized it definitely gives the meal the "Chinese take out" feel we were looking for.

Cashew Beef
Source: Taste of Home, June and July 2011, p. 43
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 2 tbs. olive oil
    • 1 lb. flank steak, cut into 1" strips
    • 4 green onions, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2/3 cup salted cashews
    • 4 tsp. soy sauce
    • 1 tsp. sesame oil
    • 1 tsp. oyster sauce
    • 1/2 cup cold water
    • 4 tsp. cornstarch
    • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
    • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
    • 2 cups cooked rice

Directions:
1. Add one tbs. of the olive oil to a large wok over medium heat.
2. In a small bowl combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce, water, cornstarch, ginger and cayenne until the cornstarch dissolves.
3. Add the flank steak to the wok and cook until the meat is no longer pink. Transfer the meat to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
4. Add the remaining tbs. of oil to the wok. Add the green onions, garlic and cashews. Cook for 1 minute or until the garlic is fragrant.
5. Stir the soy sauce mixture and pour into the wok. Stir continuously until the mixture comes to a boil. Continue to cook until the mixture reduces. Reduce the heat to low and add the meat back to the pan. Cook for 1 minute more or until the meat is warmed through.
6. Serve with brown or white rice.

We both thought this tastes just like take out Chinese food. I wish there were leftovers for me to take for lunch tomorrow! I served this with Sesame Green Beans, also from the Taste of Home magazine.


Weekly Menu 6/19 - 6/24

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Happy Father's Day to any dads out there.

I can't believe its Sunday and my weekend is already over. Why is it that we work 5 days a week and only have off 2? There seems to be something wrong with that equation there.

A while ago I found out about a website called tanga.com. Every day they have different deals for various items. I found a subscription to Clean Eating magazine and Taste of Home magazine for less than $5 each for a yearlong subscription. Since I spend a ton of my free time searching for recipes, I couldn't pass up this deal. Many of the recipes I'm trying out this week come from the Taste of Home magazine.

Sunday: mexican stuffed shells

Monday: turkey hot dogs with homemade fries and corn

Tuesday: cashew beef with sesame green beans

Wednesday: raspberry turkey tenderloins with roasted potatoes

Thursday: fusion burgers with homemade fries and corn

Friday: gnocchi

For dessert this week, I'm finally going to give in to my inner fat girl and make the Caramel Macchiato Cheesecake that I found on Sara's blog. I don't have a plan for breakfast or lunch yet this week, I'm thinking I'll just do garden salads with grilled chicken for lunch. And maybe I'll get around to making those breakfast burritos I keep saying I'm going to make.

Strawberry, Orange and Grilled Chicken Salad

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I vividly remember the first time I had a salad. I was about 4 years old and my mom had just served me lunch. She was eating a salad and I asked what it was. She explained it was vegetables with salad dressing over them. I tried a bite of it and I was immediately hooked. Okay, I'm pretty sure I was just hooked on Ranch dressing, but hey, its not a bad start.

As I got older I began trying different types of salads and quickly realized a garden salad with grilled chicken was easily my favorite. As I've mentioned quite a few times now, a few years ago I put myself on the Abs Diet. One of my favorite meals from the Abs diet was a variation of this salad.

Strawberry, Orange and Grilled Chicken Salad
Adapted from: The Abs Diet for Women
Servings: 1
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Ingredients:
    • 1 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
    • 1/2 cup chicken, shredded
    • 1/2 cup strawberries, diced
    • 1/4 cup mandarin oranges, chopped
    • 1 thick slice red onion, diced
    • raspberry vinaigrette, homemade or bought
    • fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Add desired amount of dressing, toss well to coat. Season with pepper, to taste. Serve cold.

I really debated on even writing directions for this. I mean, its a salad, if you can't put one of these together, I don't know if I can help you. :-)

My favorite part about this salad is that you can add or remove ingredients to your liking. I've made this with shredded ham instead of chicken, I've add cucumbers, red cabbage, pine nuts, and carrots and sometimes left out the mandarin oranges.

Actually, the best thing about this salad is getting a piece of strawberry with some of the fresh cracked pepper on it. Before trying it, I would have thought pepper and strawberry would be disgusting together, but its quite the opposite. I guess its like those people who put salt on watermelon. Which reminds me, I still need to try that! 

MyKenzie's Birthday Sugar Cookies

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MyKenzie is my friend Shannon's 7 year old daughter. Shannon and I have known each other since the seventh grade where we very quickly became best friends. Throughout middle school and high school we were pretty inseparable. When Shannon found out she was pregnant with MyKenzie, she asked me to be her godmother. I gladly accepted.

Last year Shannon had asked for my help with making Kenzie's birthday party invitations. Since I was in the final stretch of wedding planning and my creativity meter was ranging off the charts, I agreed to make the invitations. With just a few minutes of searching on Etsy.com I was inspired to make these invitations. I'm still pretty proud of them. This year Shannon didn't ask about the invitations. A couple of months ago we were talking about the party and what theme she wanted to have. Since my royal icing skills have improved a bit, I asked if she wanted me to make sugar cookies. Shannon said yes and I set off to make 7's, butterflies and ladybug sugar cookies.

My first snag was that two of the local craft stores didn't have ladybug cookie cutters. By then it was too late to order one online so I decided I'd just freehand the ladybug and see what happened.

Since I needed these cookies to be dry by 12:30 on a Saturday and I was really busy at work that week, I decided to cheat and use pre-made Pillsbury sugar cookies. This isn't even a recipe, but here's what you'll need:
2 packages of pre-made sugar cookies (makes about 50 cookies)
1/2 cup flour
cookie cutters of your choice

1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Microwave the cookies on their cardboard trays for 10-20 seconds until they're just soft enough to roll out.
3. Sprinkle the flour onto a flat surface and place the cookie dough on top. Flour your rolling pin and roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Using the cookie cutters of your choice, cut out the cookies and place them onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Bake them for 11-15 minutes (mine always take 12) and then transfer to wire racks to cool.

I let the cookies cool overnight, uncovered. You don't need to worry about the cookies getting stale because of the royal icing. Usually while the cookies are cooling, I'll mix up a double or triple (I needed triple) batch of royal icing (recipe here), transfer it to plastic containers with lids, add the food coloring and seal them.

I like to use the Wilton Icing Colors. The second snag that I ran into was that I was almost out of the red icing. I had planned on making pink and purple butterflies and sevens and red and black ladybugs. Luckily, Kenzie's two favorite colors are pink and purple and I was able to create a nice hot pink color which would work for the ladybugs.

To icing the cookies:
The next day, transfer some of the colored royal icing into a piping bag fitted with a #1 Wilton tip. You'll need the icing to be somewhat thick, but no so thick that it can't be piped. The consistency of syrup is a pretty good indicator that you'll be able to pipe with it. Trace the outline of the cookie or freehand close to the edge the shape that you need. Do this on all of the cookies.
Flooding the cookies:
The icing that you'll need to fill in the cookies needs to be thinner than the outline. Add 1-2 drops of water at a time and stir the icing until it will slowly run off the back of a spoon. Before you can flood the cookies, you need to make sure that your outline has hardened. If it hasn't, you'll run the risk of it chipping or the the flooding going over the outline. Typically you need 3-5 hours for the outline to set before you can start flooding the cookies, but if you have enough time to let it set overnight, its better. I like to use either a #5 Wilton tip for this (if its a small surface area) or I'll transfer the icing into squeeze bottles.

Have I ever mentioned that I'm a perfectionist? I truly am. There are many times where I'll redo something over and over again until I get it right. Yet, somehow, I'm not like this with cookies. Because I was in a rush and worried the icing wouldn't set completely, I decided to rush the flooding. I only let my outlines dry for an hour before flooding them. It is possible to do it without messing up the cookies, but you just need to be really careful when spreading the icing to the outline, making sure that you don't accidentally hit it with the tip.

Other decorations:
I decided to add white sanding sugar to the seven's to make them glittery. You need to add this within a few minutes of flooding the cookies to make sure that the majority of the sugar sticks to the icing. I just pick up a pinch of the sugar and sprinkle it over the cookies.
To add any further detail on the cookies, like the spots on the ladybugs and the butterflies, you need to let the flooded icing set for another 3-5 hours, but preferably overnight. I used a #3 tip for the dots on both.

Once you're done decorating the cookies, I like to let them sit out another 24-48 hours to ensure that the icing has completely hardened. I always seem to have a few cookies where the icing refuses to set and they smear almost instantly. I'm debating on putting a fan on low speed in front of the cookies next time.

I wasn't completely impressed with my free-handed ladybugs but I thought they were at least recognizable. And the perfectionist in me reminded me that these are for a 7 year olds birthday party. She's not going to care if the ladybugs are perfect or not.

MyKenzie did love the cookies as did everyone else. They were devoured up in about 10 minutes. One of the little girls at the party told me that they were the best cookies she ever had and she would like me to make some for her next birthday party. I told her that her mom could ask Shannon for my information if she wanted me to make them.

One of my other friends is planning a 2nd birthday party for her son next month. She picked a baseball theme because she found him a really cute Oriole's outfit. I asked if she wanted me to make the cookies and she said that would be great. This morning I ordered a baseball bat cookie cutter.

I'm definitely excited to make baseball and bat cookies. As much as I like playing with royal icing and testing myself for more intricate designs, I'm still not that comfortable with small details and baseballs and bats require neither.

Recipe Swap: Breakfast Crostata

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The recipe swap category for this week was breakfast. I have to admit, breakfast is not a meal I put a lot of thought into. I can't eat when I first wake up so I always chose something thats easy for me to eat at work. Typically I'll have a bagel, smoothie, breakfast wrap, instant oatmeal, or something else quick.

At one point I said that I would start making breakfast on the weekends but I never got around to it. It seems as though we always have too much going on for me to ever make it unless its a holiday or we're on vacation. I was excited to see what recipe I'd get because on the rare times I do actually make breakfast, its always the same things; bacon, eggs and toast, pancakes, or french toast.

I received the Breakfast Crostata with Pancetta, Mushrooms and Egg Custard recipe from Heather at Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks. The recipe reminded me of the quiche that I made for Easter and I had a feeling I might be the only one eating it. Luckily, I was wrong.

Breakfast Crostata
Slightly Adapted from: Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks, inspired by La scienza in cucina e l'arte di mangiare
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Ingredients for the Crust:
    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. rosemary
    • 1 stick butter, cut into small pieces
    • 1 egg
    • 1 egg yolk
    • zest of half a lemon

    Ingredients for the Filling:
    • 1 cup low-fat milk
    • 1/2 tsp. rosemary
    • 5 slices bacon, cooked
    • 1 tbs. butter
    • 4 oz. mushrooms
    • 1/2 small onion
    • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    • 1 egg
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. pepper

Directions:
1. In a large bowl stir together the flour, salt and rosemary. Cut in the butter using your fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs.
2. Beat the egg and egg yolk together. Push the flour mixture to the sides of the bowl and add in the eggs and lemon zest. Using a fork, combine the egg into the flour mixture until a dough forms.
3. Knead the dough into a flat disc, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours. (I did four.)
4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let come to almost room temperature. Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Add water to the dough if its too dry.
5. Preheat the oven to 350. Place the rolled dough over a tart or pie pan. Press the dough up the sides of the pan and prick the bottom with a fork.
6. Crumble the bacon, slice the mushrooms and dice the onion. In a skillet, melt the butter and then add the mushrooms and onion. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the mushrooms and onions are soft.
7. Place the bacon, mushrooms and onion into the center of the pie pan and spread to the edges. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Set aside.
8. Whisk the egg and yolk together with the salt and pepper. In a small saucepan, bring the milk and rosemary to a low simmer. Slowly pour the egg into the milk, continually whisking.
9. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and make sure its spreads to the edges of the pan.
10. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the egg is set and the crust is lightly browned. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

The original recipe calls for pancetta and thyme. I completely forgot to check for pancetta at the grocery store so I substituted bacon instead. Since I have a rosemary plant and not many recipes that call for rosemary, I decided to use it instead of the thyme. Tom tried this dish and thought it was great but that the rosemary was a bit overpowering and I could have used less. I didn't mind the rosemary flavor at all. He asked if I could make it again using ham and no herbs so I'm sure I'll be making this again soon.

Weekly Menu 6/12 - 6/17

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I had another successful trip to the farmer's market on Friday. I spent $27 and picked up 1.5 lbs. of cod, green peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, 2 lbs. of sugar snap peas, bananas, mushrooms, watermelon, and corn on the cob.

I've found that its pretty easy to plan my menu around the fresh produce that I pick up each week. Here's what we're eating:

Sunday - flank steak with sauteed mushrooms and garlic cauliflower mashed potatoes

Monday - fajita chicken spring rolls with sugar snap peas

Tuesday - foil baked fish over peppers and mushrooms with homemade potato chips

Wednesday - bourbon chicken over rice with corn

Thursday - mushroom and spinach calzone

Friday - to be determined

I received my recipe for the recipe swap which is due on Wednesday. I woke up a bit too late today for it to really be considered a meal for brunch, but oh well. I'm also making a fruited "donut" for dessert.

Corn and Black Bean Burgers

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In my attempts to make healthier foods, I came across this recipe in Cooking Light. I had a pretty good feeling that Tom wouldn't like it at all, but while he's still agreeing to try different foods without question, I figured I'd make it.

Corn and Black Bean Burgers
Slightly Adapted from: Cooking Light, September 2004
Servings: 5
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Ingredients:
    • 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
    • 15 oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1/2 cup no-salt-added canned corn, drained
    • 1/4 onion, diced
    • 1/3 cup panko
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
    • 1 tbs. olive oil
    • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. In a large bowl add the black beans and kidney beans. Mash lightly and then add the remaining ingredients except for the oil.
2. Form into 5 large patties. Preheat a large skillet to medium high heat. Add the oil. Cook the burgers for 4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.

I thought the garlic and cayenne gave these a great flavor with little bursts of sweetness from the corn. They were a bit mushy and Tom didn't like the texture, but while typing up this recipe I realized that I somehow forgot the egg and the panko. Apparently this is why you shouldn't cook while exhausted with a million things on your mind. So I obviously need to make these again with the correct ingredients to see if Tom likes them.

I was a bit concerned that these would be too dry and it was recommended to serve them with sour cream as a topping. I took that a bit further and ate mine with sour cream and salsa.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

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When I bought the large container of green peppers from the farmers market, I had no idea what I was going to do with all of them. So I asked on the message board where I spend quite a bit of time and I was given the ever obvious answer of stuffed peppers. I have no idea why I didn't think of that.

When I was a kid, about 8 or so, my dad made stuffed peppers. I thought they were absolutely disgusting and I just ate the filling. I was curious to see if my tasted had changed.

Stuffed Bell Peppers
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients:
    • 4-6 green bell peppers
    • 1/2 lb. ground turkey
    • 1/2 can petite diced tomatoes, drained
    • 5 oz. mushrooms, diced
    • 1 small onion, diced
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 tbs. olive oil 
    • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
    • 1 cup chicken broth
    • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
    • salt and pepper
    • hot sauce (optional)
Directions:
1. Cut the tops of the green peppers off and remove the seeds. Rinse out the peppers and pat dry with a paper towel.
2. Preheat the oven to 350. Cook the rice according to package directions, using the chicken broth instead of water. Once cooked, fluff the rice and set aside.
3. In a medium skillet over medium heat add the ground turkey. Once the turkey is cooked through, drain any grease. Add the olive oil, canned tomatoes, mushrooms, onion and garlic. Cook for 3-5 minutes.
4. Add the rice to the skillet and cook for 1 minute more until everything is combined. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Place the peppers in baking dish and fill with the rice mixture. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top of each pepper and place the top of the pepper over it.
6. Bake for 45 minutes and then remove the top of the pepper. Bake for another 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.

I am proud to say that I now like stuffed peppers. Since I didn't add a lot of salt and pepper to the mixture, a little bit of hot sauce went a long way to give these a ton of flavor. I'm planning on making these again and trying out different vegetables to stuff inside.

Weekly Menu

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I missed going to the farmers market near work last week because we went to the beach. I was more than happy to go at lunch time today. I was also rather proud of myself for walking past all of the homemade baked goods and candies and heading directly to the back of the market where the seafood and produce guy has his stand. I have to admit, I went a bit overboard this time and spent $14 but I got a ton of stuff.

The best priced item was definitely the green peppers. We're paying something ridiculous like $1.50 per pepper at the grocery store and he had 5 peppers (4 green, 1 red) for $3. I also couldn't pass up a Costco sized container of raspberries for $2. The other items I bought was 6 ears of corn for $2, a 3lb. bag of fingerling potatoes for $2, half a seedless watermelon for $2, two 8 oz. cartons of mushrooms for $1 each and a ginormous head of romaine lettuce for $1. I seriously debated on $2 for 6 cucumbers and $1.50 for a half pound of tomatoes but I wasn't confident that I'd be able to use them before they went bad.

When I got back to work I asked my coworkers if they'd be interested in going in on half of the items I knew I wouldn't use in time. They said yes so I'm sure I'll end up with even more stuff than this week. My next concern was what I could do with 5 peppers. Luckily, I have my lovely message boards on the internet and someone suggested stuffed peppers. I have no idea why I didn't think of this. I've only had them once, about 10 years ago and I didn't really like them. Hopefully my tastes have changed. I also asked about the raspberries and was given a great recipe for a somewhat unhealthy fruit tart. Since my mint plant is growing out of control I'm thinking I'll use the remaining raspberries on mint mojitos.

Sunday - stuffed peppers

Monday - corn and black bean burgers with homemade potato chips and corn on the cob

Tuesday - BBQ pulled chicken with corn on the cob

Wednesday - shrimp bisque

Thursday - asian noodles with beef

Friday - to be determined (The recipe swap for the next week is breakfast but I don't have the recipe yet)

Other items:
Breakfast - breakfast burritos (ham, eggs and peppers)
Lunch - chicken ceasar salads
Dessert - fruit tart

Scallops with Asian Green Bean Salad

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For once, I have no idea what to say before a post so I'm just going to start with the recipe. For those of you who just come here for that, I'm sure its welcomed. =)

Scallops with Asian Green Bean Salad
Adapted from: Cooking Light, March 2008
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 1 lb. sea scallops
    • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
    • 20-30 green beans, trimmed
    • 4 oz. angel hair pasta
    • 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
    • 1 orange pepper, thinly sliced
    • 2 stalks celery, diced
    • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • salt and pepper to taste
    Dressing:
    • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
    • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 tsp. ground ginger
    • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp. sugar
    • 2 tbsp. sesame oil
Directions:
1. Combine all of the ingredients for the dressing together in a large bowl.
2. Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.
3. Add the olive oil to a large pan over medium heat. Sautee the bell peppers and green beans for 10-12 minutes or until soft.
4. Rinse the scallops and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper and then coat with sesame seeds.
5. Remove the vegetables from the skillet and add to the bowl with the dressing. Add the sesame oil to the skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the scallops for 2-3 minutes on each side until cooked through and they develop a dark crust.
6. Spoon the vegetables over the pasta and top with the scallops. Drizzle with the dressing.

The original recipe calls for the salad to be served cold but neither of us really like raw peppers or green beans so I turned this more into a stir fry than salad. Either way, I thought it was delicious and I definitely want to experiment with this recipe some more; I think it'd be great with chicken, sugar snap peas instead of green beans and with rice noodles.

Since Tom and I started tracking our calories with My Fitness Pal, I can also tell you that one serving of this is 376 calories which I found pretty impressive.

Korean Cucumber Salad

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When I first started cooking I spent hours on www.allrecipes.com printing out any recipe that appealed to me. I quickly found out that I'd need to purchase a binder to hold all of these recipes and probably some dividers so I could find recipes easily.

This is one of the first recipes that I printed. Back then, I was cooking for my mom. She wasn't a big fan of this recipe so I only made it a few times. When I started cooking for Tom, he didn't like most vegetables so this recipe just sat in the Side Dish divider patiently waiting to be used again.

Last week when Tom told me that I could make any healthy recipe that I wanted and he would try it, I immediately knew I would make this recipe this week.

Korean Cucumber Salad
Slightly Adapted from: www.allrecipes.com
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
    • 1 carrot, peeled
    • 1 tbsp. white vinegar
    • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
    • 1/2 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
    • 1 tbsp. sesame seeds
    • 1/2 tsp. olive oil
Directions:
1. Combine the cucumber, carrot, vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes and black pepper into a medium sized bowl. Stir well to combine all of the ingredients. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
2. In a small pan, heat the olive oil. Once hot, add the sesame seeds and cook over medium heat until toasted.
3. Drain the oil from the sesame seeds. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the cucumber salad and serve immediately.

Since I knew Tom would at least try this, I decided to add the sugar to the recipe because I know he hates the taste of vinegar. He didn't end up liking it, but I though the sugar was a nice addition to make this dish milder. If you're a fan of sour and spicy, try it without the sugar.

I really like how this recipe goes well with so many different meals. You could have it with a Korean BBQ Beef as recommended on Allrecipes.com, or serve it with Parmesan Sesame Chicken like I did, or even have it out as a side dish at a cookout.

Parmesan Sesame Chicken

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We eat A LOT of chicken so I'm always looking for new ways to prepare it. I came across this recipe a few years ago, printed it out and stuck it in my recipe binder. I kept flipping past it each time because I've never been a big fan of breaded foods and I expected this to be either very bready or mushy. I finally decided to make this tonight and I'm proud to report its neither bready or mushy!

Parmesan Sesame Chicken
Slightly Adapted from: www.allrecipes.com 
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs (I used Panko)
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 tbsp. sesame seeds
    • 1 tsp. parsley
    • 1 tsp. oregano
    • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Directions:
1.  Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Cut the chicken breasts into tenderloins.
3. In a medium sized bowl combine the bread crumbs, sesame seeds, parsley, oregano, and red pepper flakes. In another medium size bowl add the eggs.
4. Dip each tenderloin into the egg and then into the bread crumbs. Place the chicken tender onto the baking sheet. Repeat with each tender.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Since we're all on a diet, I decided to serve the chicken strips without any dipping sauce but a barbecue or honey mustard sauce with them would be delicious. Like the Parmesan herb chicken tenders, these would be great served over a salad as well. I'll planning to make these again soon!

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