Creamy, Dreamy Tropical Smoothie

I got back from a work trip on Saturday morning and after flying all night and enduring a three hour layover in Atlanta on no sleep, I finally made it home only to be sick the entire weekend with food poisoning. For someone who likes to cook and eat, food poisoning is brutal. I already had no food in my fridge because I was gone all week which is just as well because the only thing I’ve been willing to get down is water. I still haven’t been able to get to the store or think about food yet and am going on my third day of little to no food. But as I’m starting to feel a little bit better, I’m considering (maybe) a smoothie. This is reminding me of this Creamy, Dreamy Tropical Smoothie I made before I left on my work trip. When I was feeling 100%, this was a perfectly cool summertime treat for these dog days of summer.

Frozen pineapple, Greek yogurt, coconut milk, and honey are blended together until smooth and creamy. A little topping of toasted unsweetened coconut finishes off this smoothie which really is like a drinking a sip of the tropics. Since I used frozen pineapple, I didn’t use ice but if using fresh pineapple, you’ll need the ice to thicken it up. Thinking about this smoothie, I’m dreaming of the days when I will be lakeside next week listening to the waves instead of home laying in my bed under the weather.

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Place pineapple, yogurt, coconut milk, ice, and honey in a blender. Process on high speed for 60 seconds or until smooth or desired consistency.

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Pour into tall glasses. Garnish each serving with 1 teaspoon toasted shredded coconut, if desired. Serve smoothies immediately.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love it

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Slim Turkey Reubens

Who knew there was such a thing as turkey pastrami? Had I known this, I might have been trying to make Reubens a long time ago! There used to be a restaurant near me that served Rachaels – basically a Reuben but with turkey and coleslaw instead of pastrami and sauerkraut. It was my favorite sandwich there. I saw this recipe for Slim Turkey Reubens and knew immediately I needed to try to make it. I was a little worried about the sauerkraut since I’m not a fan but figured I’d give it a go. You never know, right?

Turkey pastrami, reduced-fat Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut is sandwiched between rye bread which is slathered with whole-grain mustard on one side and a yogurt-based Russian dressing on the other. The Russian dressing, made with yogurt, ketchup, pickles, and capers, was so flavorful and not at all tangy as Greek yogurt can be. Not being a sauerkraut or capers fan, I was a little skeptical. But I have to say, this sandwich ROCKS! And who knew that cooking spray could create such a beautifully golden toasted goodness? There are so many different flavors going on with the rye, the mustard, the sauerkraut, the cheese, the pickles, and the capers but where one might overpower a regular sandwich, all of these marry so perfectly together that it’s a perfect storm of flavor. Forget about Rachaels – I’m sold on these Reubens.

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In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, pickles, ketchup and capers to make Russian dressing; season with salt and pepper.

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Spread mustard on 4 slices of bread; top with the cheese, pastrami and sauerkraut. Spread the Russian dressing on the other 4 slices of bread. Add to the sandwiches, dressing side down.

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Heat a large skillet or griddle pan over medium. Coat both sides of the sandwiches with cooking spray. Working in two batches, cook the sandwiches, covered, until the cheese melts and the bread is toasted, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine

Zucchini and Corn Chili

Sure, maybe the end of summer isn’t exactly the best time to be making chili. But when the main ingredients are zucchini and corn, why not make it in the summer when the produce is at it’s best? For someone like me who travels a lot for work, things like soups, stews and chilis are great to make in advance and store in the freezer so that when you come back from a road trip, a great meal cane be heated up in no time. This Zucchini and Corn Chili came together quickly, freezes beautifully, and is packed with healthy flavor.

Zucchini, corn and onion are cooked with chili powder and cumin before being mixed with canned tomatoes, black beans, vegetable stock, and poblano peppers. The peppers give this chili just enough of a kick while the spices provide that perfect chili flavor. The zucchini, corn and black beans make a great hearty combination in this vegetarian chili. When I’m gone for a week and tired from traveling, knowing that my refrigerator is empty, I’ll be happy to have this chili waiting in the freezer so I can relax and wait another day to do grocery shopping.

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Char the poblano peppers either over an open flame on a gas burner or under the broiler. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Peel, seed and dice the chiles.

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Cut the corn off the cobs. Heat a Dutch oven or other large pot over medium-high and add the oil. Add the corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 2 to 4 minutes.

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Add the zucchini, onion, garlic, chili powder and cumin. Stir until the spices are toasted, about 2 minutes. S

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eason with salt and pepper, then stir in half the beans. In a medium bowl, mash the remaining beans with a fork; stir into the vegetables (this will help thicken the chili).

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Add the stock, tomatoes, honey and peppers. Cover and simmer until the flavors combine, 10 to 15 minutes.

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Stir in the cilantro and lime juice. Serve with your choice of toppings.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love it

Source: Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine

Tamale Chicken Potpies

I’ve got more work travel coming up so I figured I better try to get a post or two in while I can. It’s amazing how quickly time flies when you are traveling. Doesn’t it seem that way when you are on vacation? You want to stop time but it just goes by too fast. Next thing you know, you are back at work. Traveling for work doesn’t always seem to go by so quick but then you wake up one day and all of the sudden realize the summer is almost over. How does this happen? I haven’t had a vacation all summer and I’m dying for some time off. Until then, I’ll just keep making some comfort food like this Tamale Chicken Potpies to help soothe my soul until I can sit by a beach somewhere with a book.

Ground chicken and onion are livened up with some cumin and chile powder before being mixed with some spicy diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, zucchini, and corn. The whole mixture simmers together and is spooned into ramekins (you could make this in one big dish too) where it’s topped with a creamy cornmeal mixture that’s made even better with some cheese. A short trip to the oven gets these little treats golden brown and perfectly bubbly. I love meals like this that are already portion controlled for me. The great thing about this recipe is that the chicken mixture is good enough alone. I had a little bit left over and warmed it up for a quick lunch one day. A perfect little meal. Maybe I can’t jet off to Mexico for some tamales, but I can close my eyes and pretend, right?

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Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes, stirring to crumble. Stir in cumin, chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 1 minute.

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Add zucchini, corn, tomatoes, and tomato sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Divide chicken mixture evenly among 4 (10-ounce) ramekins coated with cooking spray. Place ramekins on a jelly-roll pan.

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Place remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, cornmeal, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl, stirring to combine. Bring remaining 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Gradually add cornmeal mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Stir in 2 ounces cheese.

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Divide cornmeal mixture evenly among ramekins. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 ounce cheese.

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Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes or until light golden brown.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Roasted Cherry Tomato and Ricotta Bruschetta

Roasted cherry tomatoes…kind of contradictory isn’t it? Cherry tomatoes are at their peak, perfectly sweet and juicy, in the summer but who wants to turn on their oven for roasting them when it’s 90 degrees outside? Well, I think when it comes to cherry tomatoes, it’s totally worth it. I came across a recipe for a tomato bruschetta that I was excited to make. But when I sat down and read the directions (something I should have learned to do a long time ago), I realized that the whole recipe required a grill (which I don’t have) and that my handy grill pan just wouldn’t do. But since I already had the ingredients, I was determined. So I improvised. The result is this Roasted Cherry Tomato and Ricotta Bruschetta.

Sweet cherry tomatoes are roasted in an oven with nothing but a little olive oil before topping toasted baguette slices and creamy ricotta cheese. A little sprinkle of salt, pepper and basil tops this tasty appetizer which satisfies those summer taste buds. The tomatoes pop with sweetness and blend so well with the creamy ricotta. And who doesn’t like basil on top of tomatoes? On toasted bread? I can’t even.

Roasted Cherry Tomato and Ricotta Bruschetta (makes 15 appetizers)

Adapted from Caramelized Tomato Bruschetta

  • 15 baguette slices (slice the rest and freeze for later!)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, separated
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper

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Preheat the oven to 400°F. On a sheet pan, toss tomatoes with 1 T. olive oil until tomatoes are lightly coated. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes, tossing once halfway through. Set aside.

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Preheat broiler. Lay baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush each slice with remaining 1 T. olive oil. Place under the broiler for 5 minutes or until golden brown.

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Top slice with about 1 tablespoon of ricotta cheese. Spread tomatoes evenly across all slices (about 1 or 2 tomatoes on each, depending on size). Top each piece with a basil leaf. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste.

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New England Turkey Burger

This summer has been a struggle for me to a keep up with my blog. If I’m not traveling for work, I’m working from home and sometimes just can’t stand to be in front of my computer any longer. So, thank you for those of you who are hanging on and checking in here for my periodic posts. The thing is, I still cook and still take pictures. I’m just bad and getting the blogs written up. Every time I think maybe I should just give this whole thing up, I remember why I did it in the first place. Because I enjoy cooking, I enjoy writing and I have to eat anyway, right? Well, my typical diet this summer has basically been burgers and pizza so here is yet another burger I made: this New England Turkey Burger.

This turkey burger is flavored with beer-infused caramelized onions which help to keep the meat juicy and vibrant. I used the seasonal beer Sam Adams Porch Rocker instead of Summer Ale but any beer can be used. A mayonnaise-mustard spread, cheese, tomato and lettuce top this burger – oh and another big dollop of caramelized onions. For someone who absolutely hated onions as a kid, I’ve found a newfound respect for this veggie, especially when it’s softened up with some beer! So, it’s summer and it’s another burger. But isn’t that what summer is for?

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Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil; swirl. Add onion; cook 7 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add beer; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat. Simmer 20 minutes or until onion is golden and liquid almost evaporates; stir occasionally. Cool.

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Preheat grill or pan to medium-high heat. Remove 1/4 cup onion mixture from pan; finely chop. Combine chopped onion mixture and turkey.

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Divide mixture into 4 equal portions; gently shape each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Press a nickel-sized indentation in center of each patty. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place patties on grill rack or pan coated with cooking spray; grill 5 minutes. Turn patties; grill 3 minutes.

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Top with cheese; grill 1 minute or until cheese melts and turkey is done.

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Combine mayonnaise and mustard. Spread 1 1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise mixture on bottom half of each bun; top each with 1 lettuce leaf, 1 tomato slice, and 1 patty. Divide onion mixture evenly among servings; top with top halves of buns.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

  • Sharp cheddar
  • Seasonal beer
  • Spinach

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Sausage, Manchego, and Pepper Pizza

My pizza obsession is getting out of control. I’ve been making my own pizza for a while but lately I’ve taken to eating box after box of frozen pizza. Um, I can’t help it. Don’t judge. It’s easy, inexpensive and it tastes so good with beer on a Friday night. Hey – I don’t have a sophisticated palate. My only saving grace is that I’ve kept myself from picking up the phone and having pizza delivered. So, while I’m fooling myself into thinking that eating frozen pizza is better on my waistline (it is to a degree), I know I’m even better off making my own pizza at home where I can control the ingredients. So, here we are with this Sausage, Manchego, and Pepper Pizza I made recently.

Refrigerated pizza dough is glazed with a tasty topping of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and oregano and then topped with chicken sausage, manchego cheese, and fresh yellow bell peppers. A little sprinkling of red pepper flake adds a kick at the end. I was able to portion out this pizza and save some for the next couple days rather than eating the whole thing in one sitting (not that I ever do that – ha!). The balsamic vinegar adds enough flavor to keep this pizza from being bland which sometimes can happen with tomato-less pizzas. The sausage was hearty and the yellow pepper adds a bright, slightly sweet burst. I loved this pizza but that is no surprise. I think I love all pizza. Even the pizza I don’t eat. I heart it.

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Place the dough in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; pierce liberally with a fork. Microwave at HIGH 10 seconds. Discard plastic wrap. Combine garlic, 2 teaspoons oregano, oil, and vinegar in a small bowl.

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Roll pizza dough on a lightly floured surface.

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Carefully remove pizza stone or baking sheet from oven. Sprinkle cornmeal over pizza stone; arrange dough on stone. Brush dough evenly with oil mixture; top with sausage, bell pepper, and cheese.

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Bake at 450°F for 13 minutes or until edges are browned. Sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon oregano and crushed red pepper.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

  • Basil

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

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