Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

Those of you who know me well know I am a little neurotic about food. (and.... germs, throw pillows, playdough in the house, etc). So when my friend Carey loaned me a book titled "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" She had to know it would send me spiraling into a local food frenzy. If you have seen the documentary Food Inc. the book is along the same lines. It is about a family who decided to live off only food they could grow or buy in their county (yes county, not country) for a whole year! I was suddenly inspired to eat an all local diet for the summer (local meaning Texas, Houston doesn't really have a lot of farmland). The following recipes were all prepared with ingredients I bought at a farmers market last Saturday and the local section of Whole Foods, and all items were produced within 150 miles of Houston. (with the exception of flour, which I'm looking into and swiss cheese, because I had just spent like $7 on a wedge at Whole Foods earlier that week :)

Vegetable Frittata:
Start by sauteing 3 slices of purple onion (diced), 2 fresh jalapenos (seeded and diced), 2 baby yellow crookneck squash (diced), 1/2 bell pepper (any color diced), in 1T of olive oil over medium low heat. (My olive oil is local too! and tastes amazing!!)

I covered my pan for about 2-3 minutes to help my squash cook a little faster. Once the everything started browning and caramelizing, I added 1 handful of diced baby bella mushrooms, and 5 squash blossoms.

(You can add or omit any veggies to this, just remember to add veggies that need longer to cook first and quick cooking veggies last)

Once the veggies are cooked, pour 4 eggs slightly beaten with 2T of milk over the veggies. Salt and Pepper your frittata while the eggs are setting.

Once the egg mixture starts to pull away from the edges of the pan, top with your favorite shredded cheese (I used my swiss) and place the skillet in your over under LOW broil for 2-3 minutes ( until puffy, cheese is melted and a golden brown). Such a yummy brunch and even my kids devoured it.

Stuffed squash blossoms:
Squash blossoms can usually be found at farmers market in early summer, I have never seen them in a grocery store. They are most often the blossoms of zucchini plants.

I gave them a quick rinse and laid them on paper towels to dry. In a bowl combine chopped fresh basil, 3oz of fresh goat cheese, and juice from 1/2 a lemon or lime.

Once the squash blossoms are dry, fill them with a spoonful of the cheese mixture.

Twist the top to close. In a separate bowl whisk 1 egg, 3T of flour and 1/4c of milk. Dredge the blossoms into the batter and fry over medium heat in 4T of olive oil for 1-2 minutes on each side.

Drain on a paper towel and serve hot. They look weird, but taste amazing! Even Grant came back for seconds.


With Grant out of town earlier this week, I had planned on putting the kids to bed and having a bowl of popcorn for dinner. My sweet friend Amanda called late afternoon requesting dinner at my house and a Real Housewives watch party! I couldn't turn down the opportunity to gossip about the RHW with her so I started digging in my fridge to find something to cook. So this was my Mexican....ish dinner in under 30 minutes.


I grabbed 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, did a quick salt and pepper all over and covered with bread crumbs. (You can rinse your chicken with cool water first to help the breadcrumbs stick) I heated 2T of olive oil over med-high heat (thats a 7 on my cooktop) tossed in the chicken breasts and cooked till brown and crispy. (About 6 minutes each side depending on the thickness) Set your chickens aside.

I had a 4 beautiful fresh jalapenos from my neighbors garden in the fridge. I LOVE caramelized jalapenos! They are so sweet and not hot at all. Cut the jalapenos length wise and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Dice up the peppers and put them in a skillet with 2T of butter and a pinch of Kosher salt.

Cook the with 3 slices of purple onion (diced) over medium low heat for about 20 minutes. (the slower, the sweeter) Once browned and kind of withered looking remove from pan and set aside.

My husband loves this corn and it is the easiest thing to make in a hurry.

Place 1/2 bag of frozen white corn kernels in a skillet with 2T of butter and saute' 4-5 minutes over medium high heat until soft, warm, and some kernels are turning brown.

Place hot corn into a bowl and add 1/3 pkg of softened cream cheese, salt and pepper to taste, and stir together. (Usually I add a small can of green chilies or caramelized jalapenos to the mixture for some extra kick) Serve warm.

I placed the chicken on the plate with a scoop of corn and dressed them both with the relish and sliced tomatoes. It looked fancy enough for company, but was super quick and easy!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Fish Tacos (diet style)

As I try to move away from my southern roots of adding bacon grease and cream to all my dishes, planning dinner has become a bit more challenging. I will say P90X and the diet is doing amazing things in this house, but sometimes I find myself craving anything beef or fried! This Tuesday was one of those days. I could not stop dreaming about fish tacos from Fish City Grill. Of course they are filled with fried catfish and mayo, and wrapped in a not so carb friendly flour tortilla. This is my version of a healthier fish taco and I actually liked it better.

Fish Tacos (diet style)
I started by making a crunchy spicy slaw to go in the tacos. Using a peeler, peel 1 entire carrot into a bowl (ribbons).

You can finely dice if that is easier. Next add 2 finely diced slices of purple onion, chopped cilantro (to taste), 1/2 a head of Napa cabbage, and 1/2 of a diced pepper (i used a yellow bell for color).

Squeeze in the juice of 1/2 a lime and stir. (Save the other half of the lime for the fish) I added a 1/4c of Tarter sauce that bites back (found at Whole Foods, no sugar!!) But you can dress your slaw however you like, remoulade, mayo and sugar, or it is good with just the lime juice. Set slaw in fridge. Next heat 1T of olive oil in skillet over medium heat. I used fresh cod filets, but tilapia or any white fish would work. Salt and Pepper fish to your liking and toss in the skillet.

Fish cooks really quickly, I did mine for 3 minutes on each side. (It's cooked if it flakes in the center when you cut it) Remove fish from skillet, squeeze the other half of your lime over the fish and set aside. We used spinach tortillas (only 15 carbs) and topped them with monterey jack cheese, fish, and slaw. The warm tortillas, with the crunchy cold slaw is sooooo yummy!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Stuffed Peppers

Growing up in Arkansas stuffed bell peppers were a staple meal during the summer. I made a slightly healthier version since Grant is all P90X right now. They turned out amazing!

Stuffed Peppers:
Start by cutting the tops off of 3-4 bell, red, or assorted peppers and set the bottoms to the side. Dice the tops, excluding the stem, into bite sized pieces.

Dice 1/2 of an onion and saute' the pepper tops and onion in a Tablespoon of butter over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until soft. Add to skillet 1/2 lb of chicken sausage (ground beef, super yummy regular sausage, or whatever sounds good to you) Cook with onions and peppers until sausage (meat) is fully cooked.

Drain any excess grease from pan. (there will not be any if you use chicken or turkey sausage and you may need to add a little olive oil to help these lean meats cook) Reduce heat to low and add 1 can of diced tomatoes with juice.

Let all this simmer while you cook 1 cup of rice. Once rice is steamed and ready, add to tomato mixture and salt and pepper to taste. Fill the empty pepper bottoms with the mixture, spreading any extra into the bottom of the cassarole dish. Top with parmasean cheese or cheddar (more fattening but delicious!) and bake at 350* for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Garlic Lime Shrimp

I have been hooked on peel and eat shrimp that you bake in a spice packet called "Cajun King, BBQ shrimp mix" It takes only 15 minutes to make and they are swimming in spicy butter, which screams for me to dip bread in and eat the entire pan. Unfortunately, Grant has decided that he is doing the P90X Challenge and a 1/2 pound of butter in one meal is unacceptable. So using my favorite marinade, I tried a healthier version of this super easy recipe.

Garlic Lime Shrimp:
Thaw a 1-2 pound bag of frozen peel on shrimp (I like the jumbo EZ peel at HEB)
Line a baking dish with the thawed shrimp and sprinkle with a moderate amount of Kosher salt (I say moderate, because you will be peeling them and it takes a little more to get the job done)

In a food processor combine the following:
Juice and zest of 2 limes (zest is the peel finely grated)

1 pod of garlic
1 bunch of cilantro
1T olive oil

Spread mixture over shrimp, mix around until they are all coated, then pop it in the oven at 400* for 10-15 minutes. Once the shrimp are curled and pink they are ready. Don't over cook. I thought they were amazing! No cocktail sauce needed, just plenty of napkins.

Homemade Lemonade

After a long afternoon of yard work this weekend, Ava and I decided to make lemonade. not the country time kind, but actual lemonade with real lemons!

Homemade Lemonade:
2 large lemons juiced (I use the basic juicer which looks like a cone over a bowl, you can squeeze them through a strainer if you don't have a juicer) Set aside
In a small saucepan over medium heat warm 4 cups of water with 1/2 cup of sugar, stir as it heats and as soon as the sugar dissolves remove from heat
Add your lemon juice, stir and pour over ice. yummm! I garnished ours with lemon wheels, however, strawberries, basil leaves, and mint are pretty garnishes that add different flavors.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Perfect Saturday Night

Last night in Sugar Land the weather was perfect! Slight breeze, no mosquitos, 70's..... perfect. The kids played in the courtyard after their bath while Grant and I cooked dinner together. This is one of my favorite things to do, because I love cooking... and I love spending time with Grant when it doesn't involve baseball or hunting. I had a pork tenderloin in the fridge that I had bought on sale this week and some fresh okra. I thought we might try grilling the pork, and for the okra, fried with tomatoes! It sounds weird but I was having lunch with a co-worker from Louisiana, and we started talking okra. smothered, fried, boiled....yummm! I did not have all the yummy ingredients she smothers her okra with so I tried it this way and it turned out amazing! Ava staked her claim in the remaining few bites left on the plate :)

Grilled Garlic Lime Pork:
I started with just your basic packaged pork tenderloin.

There are usually 2 in each pkg. I did a quick read on how to prep them since it is not a meat I usually cook with. Most info said to remove all fat. This was an incredibly tedious process, so I trimmed one and not the other.

(They tasted exactly the same as finished products, so I would save yourself the time) I made a quick marinade:
in a food processor combine- 8 cloves of fresh peeled garlic, juice and zest of 1 lime, 3T salt, 1/4 of a bunch of fresh parsley (b/c that's all I had... cilantro would work the same) and 5-6T of olive oil.

You can get creative if you have other flavors you want to use, I LOVE garlic and lime on the grill!
I put the marinade in a bowl with the pork and let it hang out until the grill was ready.

Grant grilled it for 15-20 minutes over direct medium heat. (not a crazy big fire)
It was sooooo GOOD! The pork held the lime and garlic flavors really well! A definete do again :)

Fried Okra and Tomatoes:
I started by cutting my okra into bite sized pieces, discarding the stem end and rinsing in a colander

(this helps the breading stay on) then I diced 10 yellow grape tomatoes in half (I think they are called sunburst tomatoes)
Make a dry batter in a large freezer bag using 1 cup cornmeal, 1/4c flour, 4T salt.
Put the cut tomatoes and wet okra chunks into the bag and shake.

Heat oil (anything but olive, it will burn on med high heat) to medium high heat. It's a seven on my cooktop. You will know the oil is ready if you drop a little corn meal in and it sizzles:) You need quite a bit of oil, because the cornmeal will absorb it.

Fry tomato and okra mixture in batches (you don't want to overfill the skillet or it takes forever) about 5-8 minutes each batch, just until the okra's crust turns golden and the tomatoes burst. Drain on a plate covered in towels and salt if needed.