Friday, March 23, 2012

Cilantro-Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa

Posted by: Maggie

Neither of us has posted in over a week. Sorry guys, just chalk it up to a bout of kitchen laziness. My life is generally uneventful and boring, but here's what I've been doing since last Thursday. 

1. Jeff and I got in a car crash. We're both totally fine, as were the passengers of the other car, but his car is not. It turns out that Ford Focuses crumple like tin cans when struck by another vehicle. This occurred on Saturday, while we were on our way to St. Patrick's Day festivities in DC.

We stood on a busy road in Arlington for an hour decked out in green garb while dealing with police and firemen. Yes, firemen. Smoke was billowing out from under Jeff's hood, and radiator fluid was oozing all over Washington Boulevard, which apparently made our situation a fire department matter.

Needless to say, our festivities were canceled, and St. Patrick's Day 2012 marked the first time in 9 years that I did not indulge in many green beers. (Mom and Dad, don't do the math...) We went bowling that night after he got all the insurance stuff squared away, where I bowled a 68. Just call me The Dude.

2. I watched the movie Young Adult. You know how sometimes movie trailers are totally misrepresentative of what the movie is actually like? (The Family Stone, I'm looking at you...) Holy crap, was this ever the case with Young Adult. I thought I was in for an entertaining movie about Charlize Theron acting like a FUNNY hot mess when returning to her hometown. Instead I got a depressing movie about Charlize Theron acting like an un-funny hot mess with narcissistic personality disorder. The movie was good, and definitely worth watching. But seriously, I wanted to drink myself into a stupor and slit my wrists when the thing was over.

3. While that movie was not about a high school reunion, it did involve the main character returning to her hometown after many years. My 10th high school reunion has officially been scheduled for this September. I haven't kept in touch with anyone I graduated with, so if I went I'd kind of be the Heather Mooney of the reunion, minus the all-black wardrobe and smoking habit. Has anyone gone to a reunion after not talking to high school people for years and years? Was it weird? I don't really understand the point of reunions now that Facebook exists.

4. I took Jeff to a birthday dinner at Ford's Fish Shack. I ate this lobster roll, and almost cried when it was gone.

5. I'm having brunch with Monique tomorrow! We've never met in person, so it's like a blind blogger date. We're heading to Founding Farmers, which I am extremely excited to try. (P.S. She's having a giveaway on her site today!) 

6. I made this chicken recipe. I hope I'm not boring you with the last few healthy recipes that I've posted. I have to be in a bridesmaid dress in 4 weeks for my lovely friend Julie's wedding down in North Carolina, and would like to ensure that it zips! 

While this recipe is healthy, it's also super-duper tasty. Even if the avocado salsa isn't your thing, you should try the chicken marinade. I only let my chicken soak for about 20 minutes, and it was still really flavorful. Although, if avocado salsa isn't your thing, I'm not sure that we can be friends. Just kidding, but seriously, learn to love avocados. 

Have a great weekend everyone! 

Here's what you'll need:

For the chicken:

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
4 small boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves
Cooking spray

For the salsa:

1 cup chopped plum tomato (about 2)
2 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onion
3-4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
Pinch of pepper
Avocado, peeled and chopped

For the chicken, add the first 3 ingredients to a bowl, and whisk to combine. Add the chicken, turn to coat, and place in the fridge for 20 minutes. 

While the chicken is marinating, prepare the salsa. Combine the tomato, yellow onion, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl and stir to combine.  Gently stir in the avocado. 

Coat a frying pan with cooking spray, and heat to medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add your chicken and cook for one minute on each side. Lower the heat to medium low, cover, and cook for 6-9 minutes, turning frequently, or until chicken is cooked through and 160 degrees in the middle. 

Top chicken with salsa, and serve with yellow rice (I just used the Goya stuff.) 

Source: Adapted from Cooking Light

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Maple-Glazed Salmon with Pineapple

Posted by: Maggie

The weather has been insanely gorgeous here in Virginia over the past several days. Temperatures have been in the low 70s, with bright sunny skies and no humidity to speak of.

I'm trying really hard to enjoy this weather, and to ignore the thoughts of the 95-degree days and humidity that await this area of the country in just a couple short months. For those of you who don't know, I live in Northern Virginia, a few miles outside of Washington, DC. There is a popular misconception that our lovely city was built on a swamp, and while it's technically untrue, it certainly feels accurate from May through September each year. You literally can't walk a block before you start sweating like a whore in church. It's terrible. After 5 summers here, my coping mechanisms include sundresses, ponytails, and copious amounts of cold showering, whining, and complaining. I'm a delight to be around - believe me.

In the interest of celebrating this brief period of nice weather, I wanted to make something light and fresh, instead of the soup recipe that I'd planned to make. I pinned this recipe from Real Simple several weeks ago, and thought it fit the bill perfectly. The original recipe suggests serving this with white rice, which was part of my plan, until I burnt it to an inedible crisp. Oops.

Here's what you'll need:

1/2 cup maple syrup (the real stuff, not pancake syrup!)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 6-ounce salmon fillets
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped

Preheat your broiler.

Add maple syrup and mustard to a small saucepan, and whisk to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool and thicken for 10 minutes.

Line a 9x13 pan with aluminum foil, and place salmon fillets in the pan, skin side down. Season with salt and pepper. Scatter pineapple and jalapeño around the fish.

Transfer half of the maple dijon glaze to a small container, and brush the remaining half over the fish, discarding any that is leftover. Broil fish for 7-10 minutes, or until it flakes easily and is cooked throughout. My fish was still slightly frozen in the center when I started to cook, so mine took longer than 10 minutes. Start checking for doneness around 7 minutes, because overcooked salmon is dry and icky!

Serve the salmon with the reserved glaze for drizzling.

Source: Real Simple

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Chocolate Fudge Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Posted by: Annie

Boxed cake mixes, boy do you confuse me. I am not supposed to like you, because as someone who enjoys baking I should make everything in the world from scratch (ha!), but when you make a cake as good as this, I must buy you and use you over and over and over again.

I do not exaggerate when I say that this chocolate cake does not taste like anything that comes from a mix. Granted, it is very "jazzed up," but as someone who enjoys the homemade, I always become a little nervous when I see a mix in a recipe. Well, my judgments are over when it comes to this awesome cake! I discovered the recipe back in January and made it for Scott's 30th birthday, and I have made it two additional times since then! It tastes good alone, with ice cream, heated up, from the fridge, and of course as a breakfast treat!

What you will need:

For the cake: 

1 box cake mix (I use Devil's Food Cake)
1 box (3.5 ounces) instant chocolate pudding
2 cups sour cream
3 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips 
3/4 cup mini-chocolate chips (for garnish) 

For the ganache:

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cake mix, pudding, sour cream, eggs, oil and water on medium speed, until well combined. Next, fold fold in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan, and bake for 50-55 minutes.

Cool cake on a wire rack for fifteen minutes. 

While the cake is cooling, place chocolate and butter in a medium bowl. Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan, and bring the cream just to a boil. Pour cream over the chocolate and butter, and stir until smooth.

Once cake is cooled, pour the ganache over the top of the cake and either allow to drizzle down the sides, or spread with a rubber spatula to smooth. (I have done it both ways, and both are equally delish!) Top with mini chocolate chips. 

Source: adapted from That's So Yummy 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Orecchiette with Peas, Shrimp, and Buttermilk-Herb Dressing

Posted by: Maggie

I decided after making this pasta salad that fresh dill is my favorite smell in the world. I know I should be telling you how delicious this pasta salad tasted, but I'm really more into talking about the smell. It is intoxicatingly delicious. 

You know how dumb teenagers huff paint and glue? Well, I'm about to start huffing dill. Can someone please turn this scent into a candle or an air-freshener so I can stop making idiotic statements like that? I'm obsessed. 

I'll stop waxing poetic about the smell of dill for 5 seconds to tell you that this pasta salad is not only delicious, but low-fat! The dressing is made of light mayo, cut with some fat-free buttermilk and an epic amount of fresh herbs, instead of straight-up regular mayo, like most pasta salads. This takes about 30 minutes from start to finish to make, including the time it takes for the water to boil. Stupendously easy!

Off to go stick my head in the fridge to sniff the leftover dill...please send help. 

Here's what you'll need:

8 ounces uncooked orecchiette pasta 
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined 
1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup fat-free buttermilk
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions (omitting salt.) During the last 3 minutes of cooking, add peas and shrimp. Drain, and rinse well with cold water. 

In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, buttermilk, chives, dill, lemon zest, lemon juice, cayenne, garlic, salt, and pepper. 

Transfer pasta mixture to a large bowl. Pour dressing onto the pasta, and toss to combine. This is delicious served at room temperature, or chilled. 

Source: Adapted from Cooking Light: Best Low-Fat Main Dishes

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spicy Spinach-Stuffed Mushrooms

Posted by: Annie

Pictured here is the best mushroom you will ever eat, but let's be real, you will not be able to eat just one. This is the kind of recipe that leaves you scraping the bowl, licking your fingers (secretly of course) and wishing that you had purchased 48 ounces of mushrooms instead of just 24.

Last weekend, our little sister came from Philly to New Jersey for the weekend, and I volunteered to make an appetizer and dessert. I spent all Saturday morning baking and cooking, and after tasting the filling for the mushrooms, deeply regretted not buying all the mushrooms in the world. When I realized I had extra filling (some of my mushrooms were "petite") I couldn't bear the thought of throwing it out, so I literally scooped it up with tortilla chips - it's THAT good. 

What you will need:

24 ounces whole white mushrooms
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 8-ounce block cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup mild Cheddar cheese, shredded 
8-12 dashes hot sauce (depending on taste) 
Salt and pepper, to taste 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Wipe down mushrooms with a damp paper towel to clean. Remove stems from mushrooms and dice stems. Heat butter and olive oil over medium heat, and add onion and mushroom stems. Cook until onions are soft, and then stir in bread crumbs. Cook for an additional 2 minutes, then set aside to cool. 

Squeeze water from thawed spinach and set aside. 

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, Monterey Jack, and Cheddar. Stir in cooled panko mixture, and mix well. Add in spinach, hot sauce, and salt and pepper. Mix to combine. 

Scoop the filling into mushroom caps. 

Place filled mushrooms in baking dish and cook 20-25 minutes, until filling is hot. 

Source: Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto

Posted by: Maggie

Is it weird that I remember the first time I tried risotto?

Annie and I had gone into NYC together back in early 2008 to have lunch and see the Legally Blonde musical (don't judge, it was amazing.)

We decided to go to Lidia Bastianich's restaurant Becco, since they had this awesome lunch special where you get salad and three different kinds of pasta, all of which were unlimited and served tableside. I know I'm making it sound like a fancy Olive Garden with that description, but really, would there be anything wrong with a fancy Olive Garden? Say what you will about the OG - those breadsticks are the shit. (Pardon my salty pirate mouth, there's really no better descriptor here.)

Anyway, my Olive Garden fantasies are not the point of this story.

The point is, one of the three pastas that day wasn't actually pasta - it was risotto. I couldn't tell you what else Annie and I ate that day, but I still remember my first creamy, parmesan-filled bite. To be fair, the reason that I may have forgotten the other pastas that I ate is probably less attributed to the fact that they were unmemorable, and more attributed to the fact that Annie and I each enjoyed several cocktails upon discovering that they had no plans of carding her then 20-year-old self. Fun times.

Risotto has an undeserved reputation of being difficult to make. It's actually quite simple, as long as you're okay with a recipe that is hands-on for a solid 20-25 minutes of stirring.

Here's what you'll need:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Arborio rice, uncooked
8 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and minced
1 cup dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
6-8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh basil for garnish

In a large saucepan, heat up broth. Keep warmed on low heat throughout entire cooking process.

In a large saute pan, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook for 3 minutes. Add in dry Arborio rice. Stir to coat rice thoroughly, and cook for 3 minutes.

Turn heat to medium-low and pour in wine. Cook for a couple minutes until the wine is mostly absorbed. Add in sun-dried tomatoes and stir.

Begin adding the broth 1 cup at a time, stirring continuously, allowing the rice to absorb each cup before adding the next. Repeat until the rice is creamy and fully cooked. It should still have a bit of a bite to it and not be mushy - this takes about 6-8 cups of broth, and roughly 20-25 minutes.

Remove from heat, and stir in parmesan and heavy cream. Salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with basil. Serve immediately.

Source: Adapted from The Pioneer Woman 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Gooey Butter Cake

Posted by: Annie

There are certain foods I find incredibly addicting, and sadly these foods do not last more than 24 hours when they are in my house. Some of these foods include ice cream, guacamole, any sort of dip, and now I have to add Gooey Butter Cake to the list. I brought Gooey Butter Cake to work and had to physically remove it from my classroom so I would not eat all of them at lunch. The cake is gooey (obviously,) rich, and is just mouthful after mouthful of buttery goodness. If you have self-control and/or lots of people to share desserts with, make this immediately! 

What foods do you find addicting?

What you will need:

Bottom layer:

2 cups flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup butter (melted)
2 tablespoons whole milk

Top layer:

8 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup butter (melted)
16 ounce box powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 9x13 baking pan and set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add in egg, butter, and milk, and mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Press dough into the bottom of the prepared baking pan and set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese until it is smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, and butter, and mix until well combined. Gradually add in powdered sugar until thoroughly mixed and the batter is smooth. Pour on top of the bottom layer in the prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake for approximately 40 minutes. Remove from the oven (even if it still looks a little undercooked) and allow to cool completely before cutting. Top with additional powdered sugar, if desired.

Source: Adapted from Gingerbread Bagels and Paula Deen
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