Category Archives: Seafood

Busy As A Bee

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I can finally breathe. I feel like this has been the longest week ever. Which I know is not true because once upon a time I was in college. And I never had time in college. I haven’t blogged in over a week. And I’ve been making food. So I feel like I’ve been letting my few readers down. My sincerest apologies to anyone who actually reads this gig. I’ve been putting in a lot of extra hours at work and babysitting on the side to help pay my loans. The real world is definitely winning lately.

I’ve been doing pretty well on the whole eating thing. Since November I’ve lost about twenty pounds and I’m not even really trying very hard. I’ve just been eating mainly organic foods to be honest with you. I never thought I’d be someone to focus this much on the right things to buy and cook but it makes me feel ten times better. I feel healthier, even if I wasn’t losing any weight at all. I wake up and I notice I feel more refreshed. I’m still insanely tired but that would be due to my 6 hours of sleep. I need to work on that too but I can’t seem to sacrifice my time after work! Anyway, what this post is basically about is this: if you are looking for a change in your life or want to feel better about yourself, start eating this stuff. You don’t even have to use my recipes, I could care less. Eat your vegetables, eat your protein, eat your fruit. I promise you, you WILL notice the difference.

Here’s a recap on the last week of cooking. Everything I made was amazing. Happy week to you all! Enjoy the food!

 

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Photo by Allyson Grillo

Last Wednesday was Luke’s birthday! The big 2-5. It was already decided that we weren’t going to do much the day of because it was a week night. We sound really really old, right? I got us tickets for a Blues game (there is an extremely embarrassing story that goes with this, but I’m literally too ashamed to tell) and made some paninis! I made the chicken ahead of time to make this a really quick and easy dish. I took the time to make some tomato soup to go with it, creating the perfect duo for a chilly evening. The soup is incredibly healthy with only 76 calories per serving. I plan on making both of these again soon!

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Photo by Allyson Grillo

Southwestern Chicken Panini

adapted from Heat Oven to 350

makes 6 sandwiches (I saved the leftover chicken and made a second meal!)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups chopped, cooked chicken breasts
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 12 1/2 inch slices Italian bread
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Colby or Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions and garlic on low until soft, about 3 minutes. Add chicken, salt, cilantro, cumin, oregano, chili powder, water and tomato sauce, and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Season to taste with more salt and stir in lime juice.
  2. Preheat panini press or cast iron skillet (or George Foreman!). Brush one side of 6 bread slices with olive oil. Turn over; place about 1/2 cup filling on each. Top with 1/4 cup cheese, 2 tsp chopped cilantro and bread slices; brush top slice of bread with oil.
  3. Place sandwich(es) in panini press and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until bread is golden and cheese is melted. If using a skillet, toast both sides until golden. Serve.
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Photo by Allyson Grillo

Skinny Tomato Soup

slightly adapted from Women’s Health Magazine

yields 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp no-salt-added tomato paste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz each) no-salt-added diced tomatoes, including juice
  • 1/4 c almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp plain nonfat Greek-style yogurt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat olive oil in medium saucepan. Cook onion and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, sugar, rosemary, bay leaf, tomatoes, and 2 cups water. Stir together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes.
  2. Remove bay leaf. Use a handheld blender to puree the soup in the saucepan, or transfer soup to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. (If you’re using a standard blender, allow the mixture to cool first; hot liquid may cause the blender to squirt out contents. Depending on the size of your blender, you may have to do this in batches.)
  3. Heat milk in microwave for 30 seconds to warm, and then stir it into the pureed soup along with yogurt. Mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

 

 

 

Thursday night I made shrimp scampi. I have had versions of this before over pasta but I wanted to cut out the carbs. I’m trying really hard to not eat as many of those little suckers. This would be really good in the summer when the weather is warm and you’re looking for a refreshing dish. It was also really easy to throw together. If you’re not a carb counter, please pour this over some angel hair or spaghetti. Or get a big hunk of bread to soak up all the extra sauce.

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Photo by Allyson Grillo

Shrimp Scampi (served with zucchini) 

adapted from Weight Watchers

yields 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds medium, shrimp
  • peeled and deveined
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 lemon slices

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Sauté the shrimp until just pink, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon transfer the shrimp to a platter and keep hot.
  3. In the skillet, combine broth, wine, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of the parsley, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Boil uncovered until sauce is reduced by half; spoon over shrimp.
  4. Serve garnished with lemon slices and sprinkled with the remaining tbsp of parsley.
  5. If making zucchini, simply cut to your liking and toss with some of the juice from the shrimp in a skillet over medium-high heat till tender.

 

 

 

I am here to tell you about spaghetti squash. I have been wanting to make squash as a substitute for pasta for awhile now. I keep hearing how wonderful it is and have officially accumulated enough recipes to try it out. I knew it was going to be tough to get Luke on board so my first attempt was with an alfredo sauce, one of his favorites. He was willing to cooperate with my health kick so I researched how to cook this bad boy.

After reading a hundred ways to make spaghetti squash, I settled with placing it in the oven whole for an hour at 350 degrees. I made sure to stab some slits into it with my knife to prevent an explosion (that was the number one disclaimer I read about while Google searching). I was relatively satisfied. The taste was good, I could barely tell the difference. But the texture was a little more crunchy than I expected. I went back and read some more Google stuff (cause that’s how I learn everything) and realized I had made it correctly. It is supposed to be a little bit crunchier than regular pasta, however, there are different ways to try and make it as similar as possible. Next time I want to see if I can make it a little more soft. Other than that, this was great and I already have another squash recipe for next week!

Photo by Allyson Grillo

Photo by Allyson Grillo

 

Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

slightly adapted from Food Doodles

yields 2 servings (or 4 as a side)

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium sized spaghetti squash
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 1/2 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp low fat cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese (plus a little extra for topping)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • crushed red pepper flakes to taste (for topping)

DIRECTIONS

  1. First prep the spaghetti squash. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Keep the spaghetti squash whole. Poke a few holes deep into the squash with a large knife. Place in the oven whole. Bake for 60 minutes, remove from the oven and let rest for 10 to 20 minutes before slicing in half with a large serrated knife like a bread knife. Scoop out the seedy inside leaving the spaghetti strands. Once cooked, use a fork to gently scrape the “spaghetti” strands into the center. (If you have a different way you prefer to cook spaghetti squash, simply cook accordingly. I plan on trying a few different methods!)
  2. For the sauce, melt the butter in a small pot. Once hot add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes over medium low heat. Add the flour and whisk into the butter. Cook for another minute while stirring. Add the cream cheese, warm it up and stir it in to the butter mixture.
  3. Add the milk and whisk well. Bring up to a gentle simmer then remove from the heat. Add the freshly grated cheese and salt and stir until melted, just a minute or two. Pour half the sauce into each spaghetti squash half (or less if using a smaller squash). Gently stir to combine. Top with an extra sprinkle of Parmesan and red pepper flakes and place under the broiler of your oven for 2-3 minutes until golden and bubbly. Serve immediately.

 

 

I love pizza. I know I already told you all this when I made a chicken, spinach and feta naan pizza. I really want to make my own dough. I’ve done it before and it has turned out great but now I want to try whole wheat dough. I came across this pizza with a recipe attached so I went out and bought some yeast and thought I’d give it a try. However, by the time the weekend actually rolled around, I was in no mood to make some pizza dough. In fact, I didn’t have the time to do so. SO I ended up running to the store really fast and just picking up a whole wheat thin crust pre-made pizza dough and threw all the toppings on top. This pizza was good. Like, real good. I would have eaten the whole thing myself if I wasn’t sharing it with three other people. All that was left were a few crumbs and some burnt cheese that fell on the stone. Always a good sign 🙂

If I had made the dough like I planned, this pizza would have literally been perfect. But with the thin crust and a lot of toppings, it ended up being a thicker pizza. Hopefully next time I can make the dough myself and enjoy it they way it was meant, but for now this will have to do. I’m including the dough recipe in case any of you want to make this and do it the right way! (Trust me, if you take the lazy route you will not be disappointed.)

Photo by Allyson Grillo

Photo by Allyson Grillo

Pesto Veggie Pizza

adapted from Oven to 350

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 1T sugar
  • 1T dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 1/2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup prepared pesto
  • 1 3/4 cups coarsely chopped fresh broccoli
  • 3/4 cup chopped green or red pepper
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the Parmesan cheese, oil, sugar, basil, salt, all-purpose flour and 3/4 cup whole wheat flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining whole wheat flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
  2. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Roll dough into a 16 inch x 12 inch rectangle. Transfer to a greased baking sheet: build up edges slightly. Prink dough with a fork. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.
  4. Meanwhile, in large saucepan, bring 1/2 in. of water to a boil. Add spinach; cover and boil for 3-5 minutes or until wilted. Drain and place in a food processor. Add pesto; cover and process until blended.
  5. Spread over pizza crust. Top with broccoli, green pepper, green onions, garlic, chicken and mozzarella. Bake 10-12 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

 

 

 

Luke usually doesn’t request food when I’m planning ahead. He kind of just goes with the flow and lets me do whatever I want. Which is nice because I enjoy having free range and experimenting with different ideas. But it’d be nice to have his input. He always tells me his opinion on whatever I make (at least I think he’s telling the truth) but I recently told him he needs to step up his game and start helping me think of recipes! We have since started shopping together on Sundays (cute, right?) and he helps me pick out meals for dinner. Last week he spotted some chicken nuggets on my Pinterest page. “Wait, scroll back up. That, there. I want those.” Done. See how easy that was? The nuggets were slathered in buffalo sauce and rolled in crunchy breading then baked in the oven. And they’re healthy for you. So what’s not to like about these little guys? We had a friend over that night who brought some macaroni and potato salad to go with the nuggets. I’m totally making spicy sweet potato fries with these, and soon. Yeah, I already have plans in my head.

Photo by Allyson Grillo

Photo by Allyson Grillo

Baked Buffalo Chicken Nuggets

slightly adapted from Oven to 350

yields 4 servings

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne) (1/8 tsp is mildly spicy; use more if you want your nuggets to have a little more kick.)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper sauce (like Tabasco or Frank’s)
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat ranch dressing

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 425°F. In 1-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag, place cereal; crush with rolling pin. Add flour, sugar, paprika, seasoned salt and red pepper; mix well.
  2. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and placing a cooling rack on it.
  3. In small bowl, stir together oil and pepper sauce. Coat chicken pieces with oil mixture.
  4. Shake about 6 chicken pieces at a time in bag of cereal mixture until coated. Shake off any extra mixture. Place chicken pieces in single layer on the cooling rack set in the lined baking sheet. Spray with vegetable oil spray.
  5. Bake about 10-15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center. (If coating looks dry, remove chicken, turn, and spray with more vegetable oil spray halfway through baking.) Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir together greek yogurt and dressing. Serve sauce with chicken.

 

 

FINALLY, the last meal I made this week: turkey meatballs! Again, this is something I had done in the past and really enjoyed so I wanted to try some different styles out. I wasn’t upset with these results, however, I know I can make them taste even better. Look out for a re-do on this very soon. I threw mine with some spaghetti, but you could use spaghetti squash and cut out the carbs or eat them solo with a salad. Have an excellent week my readers and keep cooking!

Photo by Allyson Grillo

Photo by Allyson Grillo

Turkey Meatballs

slightly adapted from Eat, Live, Run

yields 4-6 servings

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 lbs ground turkey (lean but not *extra* lean)
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 28-oz can whole tomatoes in juice
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

DIRECTIONS

  1. Puree your tomatoes in a food processor or blender until smooth. Pour into a large dutch oven or heavy saucepot and bring to a simmer with the oregano, garlic and a half teaspoon of the salt. Let simmer for about twenty minutes to thicken.
  2. Combine the milk and breadcrumbs in a small bowl and let stand for five minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, a teaspoon of salt, red pepper flakes, minced shallot and the soaked breadcrumbs. Mix well with your hands and form small balls.
  4. Bake the meatballs at 375 for twenty minutes. Once done, drop into tomato sauce and serve plain or with pasta!
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Several Recipes To Make Up For Lost Time

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Wow, have I been busy. Or maybe I’ve just been too sick to realize where the time went? I’ve only been battling a cold sine Sunday night, but it feels like forever since I could breathe out of my nose. Luke has it too. We’re still not sure who got infected first, but he seems to have it worse than me. I feel kind of bad, because normally I’d be whipping up some soup to help us. However, I have been so exhausted from this thing that I’ve barely even made myself lunch this week.

I worked a long weekend which always seems to throw off the following week. And it definitely has. I haven’t gone grocery shopping for this week and it’s already Wednesday. I’m thinking I should just wait at this point. No sense in trying to squeeze in time after work when I can probably survive a few days longer. That being said, when I do go to the store I need to be prepared for a full out buy. Food is slim pickings in the apartment due to my lack of energy. (Luke, I’m apologizing for this torture although it doesn’t seem to be bothering you).

Being lazy on the cooking side means I’ve also been lazy on the blogging side. I have about four recipes to share with everyone so instead of making all separate posts, I’m just going to make one long one. I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but I’m honestly too tired to type. It’s only 9:30am…

Here starts the long (yet delicious!) list of recipes, from Luke’s kitchen to yours!

PS: A grocery trip means more meal planning, so stay tuned for next week 🙂

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Photo by Allyson Grillo

Baked Pesto Chicken

adapted slightly from The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook

Ingredients: 
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and fresh ground black pepper for seasoning chicken
1/2 cup basil pesto
2 oz. (1/2 cup) grated low-fat mozzarella cheese

Instructions: 
Preheat oven to 375F. Trim all visible fat and tendons from chicken pieces, then cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 2 or 3 pieces.
Spray a 9″ x 12″ (or 8.5″ X 12.5″) baking dish with non-stick spray, then spread 1/4 cup basil pesto over the bottom of the dish. Lay chicken strips over the pesto, then spread 1/4 cup more basil pesto over the chicken.
Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil  and bake the chicken for 25-30 minutes, just until chicken is barely firm and cooked through.
When chicken is barely cooked through, remove foil and sprinkle chicken with 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese. Put dish back into the oven without foil and cook 10 minutes more, just until cheese is melted.Serve hot. There will be some flavorful juice in the bottom of the dish when this is done, so you may want to serve with rice, couscous, or quinoa to soak up the juice.
*I used the juice and poured it over our asparagus and then tossed the extra with some pasta for the man on the couch (who is not a veggie fan).
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Pork Loin with Pan Sauce
slightly adapted by Chef Mommy
Ingredients:
1⁄2 cups olive oil
1⁄3 cup soy sauce
1⁄4 cup red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1-2 tbsp parsley
2 tsp  grey poupon mustard
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 1-lb. pork loin fillet (YOU CAN USE PORK TENDERLOIN but I found a pork loin fillet for $1 and it was AMAZING)Directions:
Combine all marinade ingredients and reserve 2-3 Tbsp. Place the pork loin and marinade in a Ziplock bag and let marinate for at least 3-4 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a hot skillet over medium-high heat, sear each side of loin for 2-3 minutes. Place in the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes or until the meat has reached 160 degrees. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.Pan Sauce:
Pan scrapings from pork loin
1/2 cup of chicken broth
2-3 tbsp of pork marinade (thoroughly mixed)
1-2 tsp butter

Meanwhile, place the skillet back on the stove over medium heat. Add the chicken broth and scrape up all the browned pieces from the bottom of the pan. Add the marinade and let it boil down for 2-3 minutes. Add the butter and remove from heat stirring until butter has melted. Pour over the pork tenderloin.

*I used a little bit of the leftover marinade to saute the asparagus in a pan over medium-high heat. SO GOOD.
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Shrimp Enchiladas Verde

Ingredients:

1 lb frozen cooked shrimp (cocktail shrimp are great for this!), defrosted

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

28 oz green enchilada sauce

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup sour cream (reduced fat is fine)

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 4-oz can diced fire roasted green chilies

8 oz shredded “Mexican Blend” cheese (or Monterey Jack)

12-14 corn tortillas ( I actually used whole wheat and they ended up a little soggy, but it was already a messy dish and still went well with a fork!)

fresh cilantro for serving

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roughly chop your cooked shrimp (I forgot this step on accident and they still turned out great!) and place in a large bowl with 1/4 cup enchilada sauce, cumin, chili powder, salt, cayenne pepper, diced green chilies and sour cream. Mix well until everything is well combined.

Pour about 2/3 cup enchilada sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan. Soften your corn tortillas by placing each in a hot skillet for about 10-20 seconds each side. Then, place about 1/4 cup shrimp filling into each hot tortilla along with a sprinkle of cheese. Roll up tortilla and place seam-side down in the pan. Repeat until you have used up all your shrimp filling. (You might have a few extra enchiladas that don’t fit—place them in a small pan).

Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the pan and sprinkle cheese on top. Cover with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve with extra salsa, hot sauce and fresh cilantro.

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Oh, and here is a spicy shrimp pasta dish Luke made for me last week! I tried watching what he threw in the pan to blog about it, but he was moving too fast (mainly because I think he wanted it to be a secret) for me to catch it all! Just know that it was spicy. So spicy I drank milk with it. But it was amazingly good. I love cooking, but food always tastes better when someone else makes it for you 🙂
Photo by Allyson Grillo

Photo by Allyson Grillo

A Very Special Valentine’s Day

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Wow. I do believe I owe my (very few) readers a sincere apology. I’ve been making amazing food and haven’t been writing about it. How selfish of me! I’ve been super busy the past few days and work was a little chaotic. William punched me yesterday. Not that it was painful, I mean, the kid is six years old. But still, no need to punch me. Care to know why I was abused? We took away his new airplane toy because he wasn’t listening. Kids are so unaware of how upset they get over the DUMBEST things.

Besides dealing with that nonsense, I had an amazing end to my week. I’ll admit that earlier this week I was really upset. I pretty much have to re-evaluate everything I’ve been working for over the past four years and try to create a new path for me to head down. Might not sound that bad, but man, how much more can I do? I feel like I’ve put in so much effort to just keep getting rejected. So now I need to figure out what it is I really want to be doing with my life. So I’m probably going to be off the radar every now and then so I can figure out my next move. Anyway, I was uplifted on Thursday because of that silly little holiday we call Valentine’s Day. I’m usually not a huge fan of this day. It’s mushy and I feel like you should celebrate love every day, not just once a year. However, I’m now realizing the day is to simply express how much you do care for those in your life. Not just a significant other, but your friends and family as well.

In the morning, I took little Sam to the zoo. We had a blast! It was a beautiful morning and so quiet. We were one of a select few that had chosen to enjoy the nice weather. Sam is just now reaching the age where he is understanding that the animals are alive and moving around. And he’s totally fascinated by them. We sat and looked at the gorillas for about 20 minutes. He just kept laughing and giggling at them, pointing every time they did something. It was seriously one of the cutest things in the world to see him light up by these creatures. Will and Chris came home from school with bags full of cards and candy from their classmates. Instead of dumping out all of their goodies, they immediately presented me with hand-made cards and a bunch of flowers shouting, “WE LOVE YOU!” My heart melted I think.

I came home, smiling from ear to ear already, to my super cute boyfriend and a pile full of presents for me. The best one? A GIANT REESE’S HEART! I’m saving it for later. But now that I’m thinking about it…maybe tonight is a good night for that to be tested. And then devoured. I cooked us dinner and we watched Ted. I laughed; it was funny. We had a few hours to ourselves to just relax and enjoy each other’s company, and that was absolutely perfect.

For dinner, I made cilantro shrimp with green beans. What an incredibly easy and quick, yet fresh and fancy dinner. The cilantro gives the shrimp a refreshing taste and the green beans had the perfect crunch to go with it. I used a little of the sauce from the bottom of the shrimp pan and spooned it over the beans. At the last minute, I threw some naan into the toaster over. I had originally bought it to make pizzas this weekend, but it just looked so lonely on the shelf. So lonely and so good. BEST CHOICE I EVER MADE. At one point, I stopped eating the shrimp and beans and just took the naan and wiped up all the juices on my plate with it. I was mildly disgusted with myself, but when I looked over and saw Luke putting shrimp on his bread like a mini taco, I knew I wasn’t alone in thinking I was a genius for adding the carbs. I made chocolate covered strawberries (that actually ended up looking awful, but they’re still being eaten) which I served with some dark chocolate almond milk. I’d make this meal again and again…and again.

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Photo by Allyson Grillo

Cilantro Shrimp & Green Beans

from Zahlmann Zoo Crew

Ingredients:
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 lb shrimp, shelled and deviened
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 cups green beans
Directions: 
Heat a large frying pan on medium-high heat. Add oil to the pan, when hot add shrimp. Season with salt and pepper. When the shrimp is cooked on one side, about 2 minutes, turn over and add garlic. Saute another minute or two until shrimp is cooked, careful not to overcook. Remove from heat. Squeeze lime all over shrimp and toss with cilantro. Serve hot.
In a separate pan, add 6 cups green beans, crushed garlic to taste, and season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium high for 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water and cover, cook for an additional 8 minutes. Uncover and cook until water evaporates. Serve hot on the side of shrimp.
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Laissez Bon Temps Rouler!

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Happy Mardi Gras! This, to me, is the most wonderful time of the year. While St. Louis only celebrates the actual day (or the Saturday before for the parade), in New Orleans and Mobile it is celebrated weeks before Fat Tuesday. I went to school in Mobile where the American celebration of Mardi Gras originated. But no matter what they say in Alabama, New Orleans will always throw down the best party. If you’ve never experienced carnival in the South, I encourage you to save your money now and plan your next trip. It is truly something unique and  special, not to mention the only time of year where smelling like cheap beer and wearing so many beads your shoulders feel like they’re going to fall off is acceptable. In fact, it’s encouraged. (I learned last year that you can never have too many beads. I have a 20 gallon size trash bag sitting in my closet from last year’s adventure to prove it.)

Last year, I spent Fat Tuesday sitting in a lake house with a few of my best friends in Waveland, Mississippi. We took a few days after wandering the city streets of New Orleans drinking nothing but Bud Light and Daquris to relax and sleep before school started back up again. (Yes, I had a Mardi Gras break in college.) We also ate as if we hadn’t eaten in a week and a half. More food was consumed on Tuesday than we had eaten all weekend. And none of it was healthy for us because, well, that would defeat the entire purpose of Mardi Gras.

Now that I’m back in St. Louis, where Mardi Gras is still celebrated, I decided I had to continue my tradition of the years past on pigging out. Up until last night, I thought I was working a double on Tuesday so I figured I’d make my planned dinner on Saturday instead. Which ended up working out perfectly because we went to Soulard for a few hours while Cajun smells filled up the crockpot. What did I make you ask? JAMBALAYA OF COURSE! Along with some sweet cheesy biscuits and king cake knots for dessert. Oh yeah, baby. That’s right.

The jambalaya was perfect. I wouldn’t change a single thing about it. I COULD have made this healthier (and may do so in the future) but it’s FAT Saturday. I also went grocery shopping at midnight the night before like a crazy housewife, so I was limited on my options. Anyway, back to the jambalaya. Spicy. Mouth-watering. Cajun-y. It made me feel all warm inside. And the biscuits? They were made to be eaten with this dish. With sugar in the recipe, they are the perfect sweet to the spicy jambalaya. Don’t forget to make the king cake knots. They don’t taste exactly like king cake, but they are a close match and much easier to make. My icing didn’t glaze the way it probably should have, but I’m going to blame that on my lack of beaters. I’m sure whipping the ingredients up would thicken it to make it more like frosting. Regardless of the outcome, they were still unbelievable. So much so that I don’t even have any left to eat tonight.

If you’re like me and want to celebrate Fat Tuesday the right way, here’s the perfect meal to do so! I hope you all enjoy and “let the good times roll”!

PS. What are you giving up for Lent? I should be working on that…

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Photo by Allyson Grillo

Jambalaya (Crockpot)

adapted from Three Yellow Lemons

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 links smoked sausage, cut into 2 inch slices

2 14oz cans diced tomatoes

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup chicken broth

2 tsps oregano

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 1/2 cups un-cooked brown rice

1/2 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined and the tales off

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients except the shrimp and rice in the slow cooker and stir it all up. Cook on low for 5 hours.

Add rice and shrimp and cook on high for about 30-35 minutes longer, until the rice is tender.

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Photo by Allyson Grillo

Cheesy Biscuits

from Plain Kitchen

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups Bisquick
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 Tbps sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 425.  Stir together all ingredients just until combined.  Scoop into a muffin pan coated with cooking spray.  Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden. Yields 6 biscuits.
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King Cake Knots

from Plain Kitchen

Ingredients:

1 loaf refrigerated french bread dough
3 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
4 tsp milk (may need more to get right consistency)
1/2 tsp vanilla
colored sugar – yellow, purple, green
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Unroll french bread dough into a large rectangle, about 16 by 12 inches. Brush the dough lightly with softened butter. Mix together sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over butter. Cut the dough in half lengthwise and then cut crosswise into strips about 1 1/4 inches wide. Twist two stips together. Tie each strip loosely into a knot, stretching gently if necessary, and place on baking sheet about 2-inches apart.
Bake for 25-28 minutes. Cool. Mix together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. Dip each knot into icing and then sprinkle with colored sugar.