Monday, January 28, 2013

Superfruit Smoothie

I just shoveled. The tip of my nose is still burning from the cold and my ears are tingly. The smell of damp mittens is lingering in the air. An errant bit of snow is melting in my sock.

Yet I want a smoothie. An ice cold, refreshing smoothie.

On a recent trip to the mall (to pick up some new contacts for the husband and get free samples at See's Candy), I swung by Panera for a Superfruit Smoothie. According to the nice lady behind the counter, it contained Greek yogurt and berries. I slurped that Superfruit Smoothie down like it was my job. It was dang good!

But since I don't get to the mall every day, I had to figure out how to make one at home. Just for cold, snowy days like this. So I can sit on my couch in my plaid PJ pants and striped socks and really enjoy it.

Superfuit Smoothie
Serves one very thirsty gal

6 ounces blueberry Greek yogurt (about 3/4 cup)
8 frozen strawberries (about 1 cup)
5 ice cubes
Splash of juice (I used about 1/8 cup of cranberry apple juice.)

Toss all of the ingredients in the blender and blend until very well combined. If you're having a hard time getting your blender going, you might need to add a bit more juice.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Apricot Curry Glazed Carrots

Recently, the husband's parents came to Milwaukee for a visit. I don't even kid myself into thinking they came to see the husband and me...they came to see our boy. He's much cuter than we are.

While they were here, I made Turkey Meatloaf Florentine. (As an aside from today's recipe, you should totally put Turkey Meatloaf Florentine on your menu for this week. I forgot how good it is. Turkey dotted with spinach and glazed with honey mustard...Mmmmm.) I also made potatoes au gratin. From a box. I have no shame.

But these carrots were not from a box. You use a few simple ingredients that you probably have lying around your kitchen. Crisp-tender with a sweet glaze that gets a kick from the curry.

Apricot Curry Glazed Carrots
Adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen
Serves 4

1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 pound carrots, sliced 1/4" thick (I used baby carrots because I had them on had. Use what you've got!)

Place broth, preserves, butter, and spices in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once it's boiling, add the carrots. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and allow the carrots to simmer for about 8 minutes. Remove the lid and allow the carrots to continue simmering until the liquid is reduced to more of a thickened glaze and the carrots are crisp-tender, 2 to 4 minutes longer.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Pork Chops with White Wine Mushrooms Sauce

How do you decide what to make for dinner? Do you seek inspiration in the glossy pages of a favorite cookbook? (America's Test Kitchen makes me swoon.) Do you heed the call of hunger? (I can't do that because we'd eat PB&J three times a week, and the husband would go bonkers.) Do you flip to the Food Network for ideas? (Giada! Please be my BFF!) Do you peer into the freezer to see what leftovers have languished the longest? (Mmm, hmm.)

Sometimes, when I'm feeling my most responsible, I plan my meals ahead of time based on what's cheap at the grocery store. In this case, it was pork sirloin chops and mushrooms. A little white wine made sauce and a delicious accompaniment to a meal worth planning ahead for.

You know what, though? Sometimes it's ok to pick dinner based on which take-out menu is on top of the pile.

Pork Chops with Mushrooms and White Wine Pan Sauce
Serves: 2

2 boneless sirloin pork chops
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 cup white wine
1 tablespoon butter
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup chicken broth

Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Dust with flour and pat off excess. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium-high. Add chops and cook until they are golden brown on both sides and reach an internal temperature of 135-140 degrees, flipping once. (Mine cooked about 6 minutes on the first side and 5 minutes on the second side.) Set chops on a separate plate, tented with foil, to rest and finish cooking to an internal temperature of 145-150 degrees.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Saute the onion until it's softened and golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and continue to cook for another minute. Add 1 tablespoon butter and mushrooms to the skillet. Saute for 5-6 minutes until the mushrooms are tender.

Stir in wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate the browned bits into the sauce. Allow the wine to cook down for 1 minute. Add in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Allow the sauce to reduce for 2-3 minutes. Serve pork chops with white wine mushroom sauce poured over the top.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Glazed Donut Muffins

I've respected your New Year's resolutions long enough. Now I'm serving up muffins. Donut muffins. Oh, so help me.

With a double-dip of glaze and subtle spice from cinnamon and nutmeg, you get all the joy of a donut without the danger of deep frying. I certainly can't be expected to fry anything before I'm fully caffeinated.

So enjoy a little treat this weekend. Get back to smoothies and salads on Monday.

Glazed Donut Muffins
Adapted from Sweet Pea's Kitchen

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups flour
1 cup milk

5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons hot water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or grease with cooking spray.

Beat together butter, oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until smooth using the paddle attachment of your mixer. Add in eggs one at a time. On low speed, beat in baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla extract. Still using the lowest setting, add in a third of the flour, then half of the milk, another third of the flour, the second half of the milk, and finally the remaining flour. Mix until just combined, being careful not to overmix.

Divide batter between 12 muffin cups. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to cool on a wire rack. Let muffins cool for 10 minutes before glazing

While the muffins cool, make the glaze. In a small-ish bowl, whisk together butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and hot water until smooth. (It will look a light brown color because of the vanilla extract, but you can't tell once it's dried.)

Dip the tops of the muffins into the glaze. Allow glaze to dry before dipping the muffins a second time. (The second dip is really essential to making them look like glazed donuts. If the glaze hardens before you're ready for the second dip, just heat the glaze in the microwave for a few seconds and whisk again.)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Green Beans with Bacon and Mushrooms

Green beans are good, but you know what? They're better with bacon.

I know what you're thinking, "Doggone it, Erin. I'm trying to be healthy, and here you are throwing bacon at me. Why are you doing this?!"

Well, don't worry your pretty little head; this recipe is still good for you. According to my very scientific Google search, a slice of bacon only has about 45 calories. And since there's only half a slice of bacon per serving, we're talking 22.5 calories.

So embrace the bacon! And the beans, I suppose.

Green Beans with Bacon and Mushrooms
Serves: 4-6
Adapted from Cookin' Canuck

1 pound green beans, ends trimmed
3 strips bacon
1 small shallot, peeled and chopped fine
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add green beans and cook until just crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain beans and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy. Transfer bacon to a paper towel. Once it's cool enough to handle, crumble the bacon and set it aside.

Drain off all but 2 teaspoons bacon grease from the skillet. Over medium-high heat, saute the shallot and mushrooms until softened and golden, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in green beans and cook until heated through, another 2 minutes or so. Stir in poultry seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with reserved bacon and serve.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Parmesan and Yogurt Crusted Chicken

Is anyone else completely hooked on Pinterest? I can't get enough. Unsurprisingly, most of my pins have to do with food. As I scroll through images, I'm always tempted by cupcakes piled high with frosting, gooey brownies, and decadent truffles, but sometimes I manage to find a dinner recipe.

I kept coming across this chicken recipe that people referred to as "OMG Chicken." I was intrigued. With a name like that it promises to be delicious, but it looked ridiculously simple as well. You take your chicken breasts, schmear them with stuff, and pop them in the oven. Boom. Done. Eat dinner.

And you know what? It really is OMG good.

P.S. Want to see the rest of my pins? Find me on Pinterest here.

Parmesan and Yogurt Crusted Chicken
Serves: 4
Adapted from Pinterest

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, combine yogurt and Parmesan cheese. In a separate small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.

Place chicken breasts in a baking dish large enough to fit them in a single layer. Evenly spread Parmesan and yogurt mixture over the chicken. Sprinkle with seasoned breadcrumbs.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Tent with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Healthier Fried Rice

OMG. I am so excited to share this fried rice recipe with you. Here's why:

  1. It tastes like take-out! I really don't think I need to elaborate any more, but, seriously, it tastes like you ordered from Chang's Garden. So gooooood.
  2. It's healthy...even though it tastes like take-out! I can't even handle how giddy this makes me. You use just over a tablespoon of oil for the whole dish, and it's chock full of vegetables and lean protein. 
  3. It uses leftovers so they don't taste like leftovers! That's how I stumbled on this recipe: I had to use up stuff in my fridge. Leftover cooked rice from the Cashew Chicken you made? Maybe a remnant of rotisserie chicken languishing behind the lettuce? Baby carrots that you're sick of packing in your lunch box? Well let's just take care of all of that as deliciously as possible. 
Let's get cookin'...

Healthier Fried Rice
Serves 3-4 as a main dish
Adapted from

3 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
1 shallot (or 1/2 a small onion), peeled and finely diced
2 eggs
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 teaspoons soy sauce, divided
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 cup finely chopped carrots (about 3 large carrots)
2/3 cup frozen peas, thawed
2/3 cup cooked chopped chicken or pork
2 cups cooked and cooled rice
Extra soy sauce and sesame oil for serving (optional)

In a large, non-stick skillet (or a wok, if you have one), heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium high. Add the shallot and cook, stirring often, until it's soft and toasty brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the onion from the skillet and set aside.

Beat the eggs with 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce and sesame oil. Add 1/2 teaspoon oil to the skillet. Pour in the beaten eggs and swirl to coat the skillet. When the bottom of the eggs has cooked, use a spatula to flip them over and cook the other side. (This was a little messy for me, and it still turned out just fine!) Allow the eggs to finish cooking, about 1 minute, and remove them from the skillet. Chop the eggs into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Heat another 2 teaspoons oil in the skillet. Add carrots, peas, chicken, and cooked onion. Stir fry for 3 minutes. Add rice and stir fry for another 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce and chopped cooked egg and cook for 1 more minute. Serve with extra soy sauce and a tiny drizzle of sesame oil on the side if you'd like.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Orange Chicken Stir Fry

When my mom and dad came for a visit recently, we made this stir fry. You know how sometimes when you stir fry chicken it turns really tough? That always makes me feel like I'm gnawing on shoe leather. Nasty. Well, my brother is a fantastic cook, and he taught my mom a technique that ensures juicy stir fried chicken. It requires massaging the chicken. Yes, you read that right: Chicken massage. Sounds strange/gross/crazy-town, but it works!

So, dim the lights, light a eucalyptus-scented candle, bust out your favorite Enya CD, and get cooking!

Orange Chicken Stir Fry
Serves: 4
Adapted from PBS

1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon minced pickled ginger*

Stir Fry:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 tablespoon oil
8 ounces snow peas
1 small head broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
Hot cooked rice, for serving

Whisk together sauce ingredients and set aside.

Place chicken in a separate bowl. Add water and use your hands to massage water into the chicken for 1-2 minutes. (Yes, this looks and sounds strange. You're gonna have to trust me.) You'll notice that the chicken has sucked up the water. At this point, add corn starch and massage it into the chicken for another 1-2 minutes.

Meanwhile, place broccoli and 1/2 cup water in a large skillet. Bring water to a boil. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Add snow peas and cook for another 2 minutes. Drain and set vegetables aside.

Add oil to the skillet over medium-high heat and cook the chicken until is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Stir in the vegetables and cook for 1 minute. Add the sauce a few tablespoons at a time to give it a chance to cook down and thicken. Serve over rice.

*Don't have pickled ginger? Don't let that stop you! Try substituting with 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger, or 1 teaspoon peeled and minced fresh ginger.