Now, 5 1/2 months into the year and with me still holding true to my New Year’s Resolution of exercising and learning to eat healthier, I have decided to incorporate some healthier recipes on my blog. Before you go hit the “unfollow” button, know that I’m not here to turn you into some health nut or convince you, you should be eating a certain way. I’m here to offer better alternatives and options. Do I still eat unhealthy at times? You bet your sweet double stuffed Oreo I do! However, learning to eat healthier and better is a process.
That’s why I’ve decided to begin incorporating some healthier meals into my blog and life. To officially kick off my first healthy recipe, I’m sharing with you, my green berry fruit smoothie.
A perfect energy filled green fruit smoothie. Packed with nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Some of you might initially turn up your nose at the thought of a “green” smoothie. Spinach (or kale) is so mild that the fruit literally disguises any taste of it in your drink. If Popeye knew this trick Wimpy would have been trying to score free smoothies instead of hamburgers! “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a green fruit smoothie today.” By drinking these healthy powerhouses he probably wouldn’t have had that belly either.
Now I could snap off on some health rant about all the benefits of what is in this smoothie, but that would take way too long and we would never get to the recipe. Therefore, I’m sharing links where you can read up on all the health benefits of the ingredients.
You will need a food process or high quality blender.
Add spinach and squeeze sliced orange halves with a fork to extract all the juice and pulp. Add finely chopped orange peel and bee pollen. Grind for one minute or until completely blended.
Add peeled banana slices and pour over honey. Mix until blended.
Next, add your blueberries and hemp and chia seed. Grind well until completely blended.
Add blackberries and raspberries. I like to use frozen berries because it makes my smoothie much like a frozen drink, yet not so hard to drink. If you feel your smoothie is looking too much like mud, just add more berries until you get the desired color you like.
You can also add a couple of large frozen strawberries for more taste and texture.
Pour into a glass. I like to drizzle just a bit more honey over the top of my smoothie.
Spring is here, and that means it’s time to lighten up the palate with tastes of citrusy meals. I have never made shrimp scampi before and never knew it could be so easy and fast. Let’s face it, most of you have been hold up in doors all winter and now that Spring has sprung, everyone wants to be outside. Which means, less time indoors and in the kitchen.
I made this meal in less than 30 minutes and would have thought it came from a 4 star restaurant, had I not cooked it myself.
Buona Pasqua! Or for you non Italians Happy Easter! I’m not Italian, but I was part of an Italian family for a very long time. Italians have deeply embedded heritage traditions and even though I am no longer a part of that family, somehow many of those traditions stuck with me through the years.
The “empty nest” syndrome really hits home around the holidays. With my son and daughter now both grown and living in another state, it seems strange celebrating holidays without them. I could curl up in a fetal position and dwell on it feeling sorry for myself, or I could choose to relive those memories of their childhood by keeping with the traditions that we once carried out when they were young children. I mean, who cares if my boyfriend is forced to color Easter eggs or make bunny napkin ears with me. Family traditions must be kept alive. Right?
Enter the Italian Easter bread, a sweet citrus-y braided bread baked traditionally on Holy Thursday. Italian Easter bead typically is flavored with Anise and a citrus flavor of lemon or orange. My first memory of eating Easter bread was in my early twenties, while celebrating Easter dinner in the basement of my In-Laws. If you are Italian, then you understand the concept of a ginormous family dinner in the basement. In fact, many Italians converted areas of their basements into another kitchen area.
While I have never actually baked an Easter bread, I have eaten many over the years. My Mother-In-Law would usually bake us one, or they were ordered from our Catholic church. This year, I thought I would try my hand at baking an old family tradition, but give it a new spin. I’m not that big on Anise flavor, so instead of Anise I switched it out for Almond flavoring. I thought the orange zest would perfectly complement the almond flavoring as well. I also fattened sweetened my icing up with a hint of cream cheese.
Many people tuck colored raw eggs into the braids of bread and bake them, but I won’t eat the eggs, so there is no need for waste. They do look rather pretty and festive though. I kept mine on the simple side. So simple that at one point it looked like a huge donut!
On to the recipe. This recipe was shared with me by a friend whom I consider part of the family. I adapted her recipe.
Orange Almond Italian Easter Bread- A New Spin on an Old Tradition
Author: Sherri @ The Kitchen Prescription
Recipe type: Bread
Italian Easter Bread.
For the Bread Dough:
4 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup 2% milk
¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large orange zest (I cut the peel off with a serrated knife and finely chop the peel. Reserve ¼ of zest/peel for icing)
2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
½ cup butter, melted
½ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons almond extract
2 teaspoons orange extract
For the Glaze:
1½ cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons soft (light) cream cheese
4 tablespoons whipping cream (or milk)
¼ orange zest reserved from above
½ teaspoon orange extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
Almond slices (I used honey baked almond slices)
Place the flour in a stand mixer bowl or large mixing bowl; set aside.
Heat the milk, almond and orange extracts and juice of the orange in the microwave in a glass measuring cup until 110 degrees. (Warm to touch)
Place all the sugar in a small bowl and add the orange zest. Mix well until completely incorporated and the sugar is moistened.
Pour the milk mixture into the sugar zest mixture, stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the yeast, stir and let sit for 10 minutes.
Add the milk mixture to the flour and use the hook attachment or hand mix it into dough, dough will be stiff.
Add the melted butter and continue to mix.
In a small bowl beat together the eggs and salt. Add to the dough and continue mixing.
You may need to add more flour to the dough, depending on how much juice you get out of your orange.
Mix with hook for 5 minutes or when you have a sticky ball of dough formed, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes or until the dough is soft and elastic. It should be slightly tacky.
Place the dough in a buttered bowl, coat top with melted butter, and cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap or a towel. Place in a warm draft-free area and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and divide in three sections. Roll each of the six pieces into long ropes the length of the bans. Loosely braid three ropes together.
Take the braid and gently fold into a circle tucking the loose ends in.
Carefully place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
Brush tops of each with melted butter, loosely cover with plastic wrap or towel, and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
After the bread has risen, preheat the oven 350 degrees. Bake until golden brown on top, 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Once the bread are cooled to room temperature, glaze them.
Whisk together with a hand mixer the powdered sugar and the whipping cream, cream cheese, orange zest, and extract. Add more powdered sugar if necessary to reach the desired consistency. Use a pastry brush or spoon the glaze onto the top and sides of the bread, and decorate with sprinkles and almonds.
Place in plastic wrap and store in fridge.
I didn’t take step by step pictures of me preparing the ingredients. The directions are self explanatory. I began step by step once the dough was risen. Let’s start there.
Your dough should have doubled in size after about an hour.
Punch your dough down. I love this part.
Form into a round shape and cut with a knife into precisely 3 equal pieces
Your surface should be slightly floured so the dough doesn’t stick. Roll out each section into long ropes. Keep them as even as possible.
Next, braid the 3 ropes together. You can find videos on Youtube on how to braid bread.
Once ropes are braided it should look like this.
Take the braid and transfer onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Fold into a wreath and tuck ends underneath as best you can. Don’t worry about it looking perfect. The more rustic the better.
Cover with towel and place back in a warm draft free spot (I usually place on top of my stove while the oven is preheating) to rise again. About 45 minutes.
Brush with melted butter and bake at 350 until it is golden brown on top and when you lightly tap it sounds hollow. Take out of oven and transfer to rack to cool completely. Mix up your icing.
Once bread has completely cooled, spoon over your icing. A tip I do is to initially leave the icing thinner. I glaze the top and sides first as this act as a simple syrup to keep the bread moist.
Once I have done this step, then I add more powdered sugar to thicken up the icing and I drizzle over and add my sprinkles and almonds.
I hope I have begun a new Easter tradition for my family, and my children use this recipe for years to come. The taste is incredibly light, nutty and citrus-y with a hint of sweetness. Perfect for Spring and perfect for Easter morning breakfast. Happy Easter everyone!
Have you ever had an Auntie Anne’s pretzel fresh out of the oven? Whether it be cinnamon sugar, pepperoni & cheese, or any other selection of their many pretzel varieties, then you must know the exhilaration one feels when that first warm bite hits your palate. That salty sweet warm buttery goodness sliding down your throat, and that dancing-all-the-way-into your-belly feeling can not be contained. I don’t know of anyone who can pass up an Auntie Anne’s kiosk and literally keep on walking. Once that sweet cinnamon sugar aroma wafts past the nose hundreds of feet before you even approach, it’s all one can do not to throw down your shopping packages and run for pretzel heaven. Yeah, it’s that good!
Now that I have your mouth watering for an Auntie Anne’s hot pretzel, what if I told you you can get that same pretzel euphoria (or darn near as close as it can come to the real thing) in the comfort of your own kitchen?
My quest began for a copycat recipe when my niece and I were shopping at a local mall a few weeks ago. We stopped to treat ourselves to a warm chewy Auntie Anne’s pretzel. My niece was being indecisive between the pepperoni & cheese pretzel and the cinnamon sugar sticks. In my bid to help her out, I offered to get the pepperoni & cheese since I have never tried one before, and she could get the cinnamon sugar sticks and we would share. Everyone wins sorta thing.
Oh emmm geee! I dipped my first chewy piece I had torn off into the marinara sauce and think I literally almost hit the ceiling with a pretzel high that had me hooked for life. As we were sitting there devouring enjoying our pretzels, I looked at my niece and said, “You know what would be good?” She just gave me the same quizzical look everyone gives me when I have a new foodie recipe idea proverbial lightbulb turning on over my head, and hesitantly said “What?”
To which I emphatically answered, “A pretzel pizza dough crust!” I mean sure, I’m not the only one to ever think of this. I have just never tried it before. If pepperoni & a little parmesan cheese can taste good on a pretzel, what would an entire pizza with the works taste like on a pretzel dough? I couldn’t get home fast enough to google some copycat recipes and before you could say Pinterest, I already had 3 pinned.
This past Friday night I returned home from work exhausted and all without a dinner plan. I didn’t feel like going out to dinner or going to the market, so I inventoried what I had in the fridge. Pizza it is. I usually make my own pizza dough since it’s so simple anyway, but this time, I was going to try Yammie’s Noshery Auntie Anne’s copycat recipe and make a pretzel pizza dough. I made a few adjustments to the recipe, but not by much.
It was fabulous and I will definitely be making this often, seeing as Friday nights around here are usually pizza night.
The recipe gave me enough dough for two pizzas. My b/f suggested I kick it up a level and make an apple pretzel bread. My eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. Only I one upped his behind and decided I would make my caramel apple crisp in a pretzel braid. That’s what we do here. One up each other. Dough braids are all the rave these days. At least on Pinterest.
So without making you wait any further here is the list of Ingredients and directions.
Auntie Anne’s Copycat Pretzel Dough:
2 cups milk
1 1/2 tablespoons (2 packets) active dry yeast
8 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 1/2- 5 cups flour
2 teaspoons fine salt
1/4 cup baking soda
1 cup warm water
8 tablespoons butter, melted
Directions: Warm your milk to 110 degrees fahrenheit in a glass measuring cup. Place two tablespoons of the brown sugar and stir. Empty in both packets of active dry yeast and let rest for 5-10 minutes on the counter.
While yeast is activating measure out your flour in a separate bowl. In stand mixer add 6 tablespoons of brown sugar, 4 tbsp softened butter, 1 cup flour and 2 tsp kosher salt to milk mixture and using the whisk attachment, stir until blended. Change over to dough hook, add remaining 3 1/2 cups flour to kneaded mixture on medium low speed until elastic. Mix in up to an additional 1/2 cup flour, as needed. Mix at least 5 minutes on low speed or until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Place in a bowl lightly, brush top with some melted butter and cover with a towel, and allow dough to rise on warm stove until doubled in size, about 1 hour. This is a good time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees for your apple crisp topping that is going to go on top of your buttery pretzel braid.
Apple Crisp Topping Ingredients
6 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 -1/2 cup finely chopped cinnamon pecan or vanilla almond granola
Pinch of salt
3 Tablespoons Salted cold butter sliced
Mix together all the dry ingredients and add cold butter cut into small pieces and mix with clean hands or a fork, until well blended. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place topping flat on pan and press down flat.
Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown (not burnt.) Take out of oven and let cool.
After it’s cooled break up into tiny pieces. I crumbled it as I put it into a ziploc bag and then ran my rolling pin over it to get smaller pieces, or you can use a blender to chop it up finely. You just want it fine enough to stick to the melted butter on the pretzel braid.
Cinnamon Apple Mixture:
1 Granny Smith apple peeled, cored, and cubed into small pieces
1 Fugi apple peeled, cored, and cubed into small pieces
10-12 Caramel squares sliced into thirds
2 Tablespoons All Purpose flour
1/4 cup +2 tablespoons brown sugar
1.5-2 Tablespoons Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In medium sauce pan over low medium heat place in chopped apples, and rest of ingredients except for caramel pieces. You will find as the apples cook down the sauce will thicken into it’s own caramel sauce. Don’t over cook apples. You want them to have a slight crunch to them. They will finish baking in the braid. When your apples and sauce are the consistency of the photo below. Turn off burner and set aside on a cool burner. Once slightly cooled toss in your caramel candies.
At this point, you want to turn your oven up to 410 degrees. Now it’s time to roll out your dough. You will have enough dough for two braids, but this recipe makes only one. Either double recipe or save dough for another use. Get those creative foodie juices flowing!
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup baking soda
Punch dough down, and separate into two equal parts as close as you can. You only need the one half of your dough. Make sure all air bubbles are out of your dough. Lightly flour surface and roll dough out into a rectangle shape as evenly as possible. Line baking pan with parchment paper and keep nearby to judge how large your braid should be. I rolled my dough loosely back up. I didn’t want to have to pick it up after I sliced the sides for the braid.
Once on the pan, I needed to get the middle bottom third of my dough brushed with baking soda water. I brushed it on the bottom middle third only and brushed each section of the bottom as I unrolled the dough. Apply a fairly generous amount but so much that the dough is sopping wet.
I used a pizza cutter (a sharp parring knife will work also) and cut both sides about an inch apart and about 2/3 of the way in. You want to leave the middle third for your filling. It should look like this. You can google braids on Youtube for assistance with rolling, cutting, and braiding.
Just to let you know, this was my first time ever making dough braid. I totally winged the braiding part and didn’t think of goggling it until later. I think I did pretty well.
Fill the center with your filling. I used all of mine. As you can see I had some oozing over the sides, I just tucked it right back in as I went along.
I was so excited to begin my braid that I forgot to stop and photograph it as I went along. You can watch a video on how to braid a dough here.
As I said, not bad for my first dough braid. I was super stoked!
Now brush the sides and top with baking soda water and place in oven for 15-20 minutes at 410 degrees or pretzel sounds hollow when lightly tapped and golden brown
Brush with melted butter. Lots and lots of melted butter!
Top with your granola crisp topping. And lightly drizzle a bit more butter over top so it stays there!
I hope you aren’t licking your screen. That would just be weird if a family member or coworker walked in and saw you doing such a thing.
Now, to see what the inside looks like. Check out the chewy dough center wrapped around all that apple crisp bliss.
It’s like nothing you have ever had before. I topped ours off with some homemade whipped cream and more caramel sauce.
Note: I will add printable recipe later. I wanted to get up recipe while it was fresh in my head. Thanks for reading.
I dream of the day my phone rings, and the person on the other end is a publishing company saying they want to publish a cookbook of my recipes. I’m a food blogger. What food blogger doesn’t dream about that? I humbly realize that dream is over the top, as well as I have a long LONG way to go in the food writing and food photography department.
With that being said, I appreciate all my blog readers and fan page readers and want to extend a self sponsored giveaway where 2 lucky winners will each receive a copy of Joy The Baker
The Picky Palate Cookbook.
No fancy schmancy hoops to jump through or pages to like, posts to share, tweets to follow etc. You get the picture. K.I.S.S. (keep it simple silly) All you have to do is leave a comment below. Any old comment will do. Just please don’t be rude or negative. Those comments won’t get you a cookbook. If you are interested, please see Rules below to see how to enter. Thank you for reading.
Rules Of The Giveaway:
1. Open to U.S. and Canadian Residents
2. Just leave a comment below and go about your day. Each winner will be selected by And The Winner Is.
3. The first winner chosen will have first pick of what food blogger’s cook book they want.
4. The cookbook will be mailed to your doorstep.
5. The winners will be announced here on the blog. If you follow my fan page I will post an announcement with a link in the comments section back to the blog.
6. You have 24 hours to email me your acknowledgement and address, or another winner or winners will be chosen.
7. Giveaway ends March 23, 11:59 p.m. E.S.T.
Good luck and thanks for being a part of the giveaway and visiting my blog.
Update: March 25, 2013: The winners of the giveaway have been chosen. Congratulations!
You have 24 hours to email me back Jean and Anna Bryant. Thanks for entering everyone and stay tuned for more giveaways in the future.
Betcha didn’t know pistachios are jammed packed with some great health benefits? Some may argue this dish is bad for you. I say leave the negative Nellies behind and focus on the health benefits this dish has. Not only are pistachios healthy for you, but so are garlic and lemons. They all have been proven to exhibit major health benefits. And (skinless) chicken is low in fat, high in protein, and packed with vitamin B.
Have I convinced you yet? No.
Health Benefits of Pistachios:
Pistachios have been shown to reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and increase the good HDL cholesterol after only a short period of regular consumption. High in antioxidants such as vitamins A and E, they fight inflammation, protecting blood vessels and reducing risk of heart disease. Even a moderate intake of pistachios has been shown to increase levels of lutein, an antioxidant well known for protecting against oxidized LDL, reducing heart disease. (Excerpt taken from Eat This! Seven Health Benefits of Pistachios.)
Health Benefits of Garlic:
Modern science has shown that garlic is a natural antibiotic. It also can aid in the management of high blood pressure and cholesterol. Read more here.
Health Benefits of Lemons:
There are many health benefits of lemons that have been known for centuries. The two biggest are lemons’ strong antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-boosting powers and their use as a weight loss aid because lemon juice is a digestive aid and liver cleanser. Lemons contain many substances–notably citric acid, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, bioflavonoids, pectin, and limonene–that promote immunity and fight infection. Read more about it here. (Excerpt taken from Beliefnet Fifteen Health Secrets of Lemons.)
Hopefully, if you are still reading this you are 1.) convinced. or 2.) don’t give a darn and still want to eat it anyway. Either way I’m happy.
4 Thin skinless chicken breasts
2 cups shelled pistachio nuts
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup all purpose flour
1 whole lemon peel (reserve lemon juice for egg mixture)
Lemon slices for garnish (optional)
4 cloves of garlic
3-4 Tablespoons EVOO (or enough to cover bottom of frying pan)
Salt & pepper to taste
Cut lemon peel carefully off lemon. Together with lemon peel and peeled garlic cloves, minced finely or put in food processor or blender to chop. In bowl whisk eggs and add lemon and garlic mixture. Set aside. Put flour in deep plastic container. Set aside. In blender finely chop pistachios and panko bread crumbs and pour in deep plastic dish or bowl. Make sure blender is dry. Wet crumbs won’t stick to your chicken.
Heat EVOO on med high heat. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
Rinse and pat dry chicken cutlets.Pound out chicken cutlets with a meat mallet in large ziploc bag or between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and salt and pepper to liking. Dip in flour mixture. Dip in egg mixture. Dip in pistachio and panko breading.
Fry off both sides of chicken (about 2 minutes each side) in EVOO (make sure it is hot enough when you put chicken in pan.)
Transfer cutlets to raised wire rack (this will keep the crust crispy) on cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes.
Garnish with lemon wedges and serve with your favorite side dish. *Note to make the dish even healthier simply skip the frying step and bake in the oven longer or use coating on your favorite fish. Also, see below for printable recipe.
There were several ingredients I needed to use up in my fridge after the holidays. The two that stood out more than anything were champagne and strawberries. I purchased the strawberries for New Year’s Eve to cover in chocolate, but that never happened. Four days later, they just weren’t as vibrant. The champagne was begging to hook up in a flute with a glass of orange juice. I had to resist the temptation, so I decided I would make a strawberry balsamic champagne sauce to use at a later date.
Sauces are great for drizzling (or dumping by the bucket full) over meats. It’s the perfect savory sweet combination. I’ll tuck this sauce away in the freezer and pull it out to use on a grilled pork loin or stuffed cream cheese and spinach chicken breast. Seeing as I’ve been eating a little healthier these days, looks like the pork loin is the front runner.
I found a great pork marinade over at Delicious Shots. I tried this recipe around Thanksgiving because my daughter isn’t a big turkey fan. I found that hard to believe watching her literally devour my turkey … including the next day!
Strawberry season is here for us in Florida, so I think this is a great way to use up all those left over strawberries you picked. Of course, after all the pies and jams made!
What you will need:
1 pint of strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup champagne
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Juice of 1 whole lemon
Pinch of cloves
Pinch of nutmeg
Wipe your strawberries with a damp cloth. Hull and quarter them.
Put them into a blender or food processor and chop them up. An old fashioned masher will work just fine too!
This is the consistency we’re looking for.
Next, on medium high heat, add your strawberries, sugar, and apple juice to a medium sized pot.
Stir well to dissolve sugar. You can pull back on the sugar if you don’t want too sweet. My strawberries were a tad tart, so I adjusted the sugar to balance the tartness.
I just love how the pale pinkness of it bubbling up. Gets me all warm and fuzzy. Orrrrr I may or may not have had one mimosa at this point. Waste not want not.
Add balsamic vinegar
Squeeze juice of one whole lemon in pot. Pick out any seeds that fall in the pot. Slippery little buggers aren’t they?
Add just a pinch of ground cloves and nutmeg. Really, that is all you need. It’s the “hmmm what’s in this?” factor that your family or dinner guests will be questioning.
Bring mixture to a boil stirring occasionally.
Turn down to slow simmer and reduce. Stir occasionally.
The whole process should take about 30-40 minutes. So worth it. I can’t wait to try this sauce over a grilled pork loin.
If you are like me, returning from a vacation, you need a day to recuperate and transition back into everyday routines. In other words, you need a vacation from your vacation. For the most part, there are no rules on vacation. We eat what we want, drink what we want, get up and go to bed when we want, and throw all caution to the wind.
It’s not until we set foot back in our front doors, plop the luggage down, make sure no one robbed us, and blurt out, “Oh man, I gotta hit the gym asap!” Along with that comes transitioning back into a routine of incorporating healthier meals into our diet as well. I use the word “transition” loosely. We are already 3/4 of the way through January and this would be about the time I forget all my new year’s resolutions.
But not this year. My boyfriend and I joined a gym at the start of the new year and had a great routine going. That was until we decided to go on vacation. Sadly, vacation is over and it’s time to get back to the gym and eating healthier. Veggies can be a bit boring at times, and you can only eat so many different types of salads when you’re trying to eat healthier ( I dislike using the word diet.) These bruschetta zucchini boats break up the monotony of a salad and beat the heck out of a plain plate of vegetables.
I’ve seen variations of zucchini boats on Pinterest and google but I wanted to stuff mine with something pretty and tasty. So, I used an adapted bruschetta recipe I found on Pinterest for grilled chicken. The tanginess of the balsamic vinegar balances out the sweetness of the onion and basil and goes well with the sun dried tomato dressing. The corn bread stuffing is baked to a golden brown perfection then topped off with melted low fat mozzarella cheese. Mmmmmmmm.
2 small to medium zucchini
1 small ripe tomato
Handful fresh basil chopped
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh parmesan cheese
1 large garlic clove chopped
extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Sun Dried Tomato salad dressing
1/2 cup Pepperidge Farm corn bread stuffing (crushed croutons will do too)
Low fat mozzarella cheese for topping.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle small amount of olive oil on glass baking dish and spread all around with paper towel. Set aside. Wash, dry, and slice zucchini down the center.
With a small spoon trace out the middle of zucchini and lift out the center with the spoon.
Chop center pieces and place in bowl. Add chopped basil, tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and chopped garlic.
Drizzle a little EVOO over top. Add about 1/4 cup of Sun Dried Tomato salad dressing and about 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.
Mix together well.
Spoon in zucchini boats.
Reserve most of juice in bottom of bowl. Add corn bread stuffing (or croutons) and moisten with left over juices. If not enough juice, add more sun dried tomato dressing. Just enough to moisten bread crumbs. Spoon over top of bruschetta mixture.
Bake in oven for 20 minutes. Remove and add mozzarella cheese and pop back in the oven until melted.
Serve warm. This pairs well with a fish, chicken, or beef.
Lately, I’m obsessed with developing recipes with adobo sauce. Can you believe in my 45 years of existence that I never once tried it until a few months ago while stumbling around Pinterest? Alright, I don’t stumble around Pinterest. I maneuver that site like a cheetah on a precision hunt for food. Seriously, I have so many recipes that I had to categorize them into boards of their own. OCD? Maybe. I like to call it fine tuned organization.
So one day I come across this marinade recipe with adobo sauce in it and fall in love on.the.spot. Of course, being the foodie I am, I start imagining all the things I could do to this sauce to develop and create my own recipes. All around one tiny can of adobo sauce. You other food bloggers and recipe developers get me. Right?
I’ve also been trying to eat better, exercise, drop 10 lbs and tone up. What better time to start with the new year. But nothing, and I mean nothing kick starts that like trying on bathing suits in a dressing room. I snapped a photo of myself in a bikini and compared it to one when I first moved to Florida. I wanted to cry. So instead of making excuses, I’m making decisions. Starting off this new year with making better food choices and getting my behind to the gym. My body didn’t understand the concept of exercise at first. But each time gets easier. Or so that’s what “they” say.
These honey lime chipotle shrimp tacos are a great way to incorporate fresh fruits and veggies into your diet. Especially, if you are looking to make better food choices. And they taste fabulous. The chipotle marinade really packs a heat punch. And the sweetness of the pineapple mango salsa contrasts the spiciness. A ying yang sorta thing. It’s like a bad relationship. They want to go their separate ways, but yet they just can’t seem to part. I think I made my point.
For the Marinade:
1 small can adobo sauce with chipotle peppers ( you can find this in the taco isle at your grocers.)
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of honey
1 whole large lime zest plus juice
2 finely chopped fresh garlic cloves (fresh is always better)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro *Optional (I didn’t use cilantro because I was out.)
25-30 large uncooked peeled and deveined shrimp (shrimp shrinks when it is cooked…haha that’s why they call it shrimp!)
Open and pour the adobo sauce into a bowl. Remove most of chipotle peppers, or leave them in for extra heat. Add all the other ingredients and squeeze in juice of the lime. Whisk together. Put shrimp in ziploc bag and pour in marinade. Marinate for at least two hours. Overnight is best.
For the pineapple mango salsa:
1/2 chopped fresh pineapple (I slice mind down the middle and just use half.)
1 chopped ripe mango (youtube has some great videos on how to shop for and cut a mango)
4 tablespoons chopped red onion
6-8 chopped grape tomatoes *optional
Juice of 1 large lime (or 2 small limes)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro *optional
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Chop pineapple, mango, onion, and tomato into uniform small pieces. Add rest of ingredients. Squeeze in fresh lime juice and mix. Let set for at least 1/2 hour or longer for flavors to marry.
Soak skewers in water for 5 to 10 minutes. Assemble about 6-8 shrimp on skewers depending on size. Get your fingers in that extra sauce and rub the lime and garlic on the shrimp. Can’t miss any of that extra flavor!
Grill (a stove top grill will work also) until the shrimp begins to turn pink and remove. Usually, 3 to 5 minutes. Shrimp continues to cook after it’s removed from the flame, so allow for that. You don’t want to eat rubber shrimp do you?
Assemble with your favorite fixin’s. I usually like to load my tacos and fajitas up with sour cream and cheese. I made a healthier choice and added avocado and used low fat cheese. I’m still getting the creaminess I like and getting something that’s better for me. It’s win win.
Now, open wide and come.to.mama! See below for printable recipe. Or find the “pin it” button at the bottom of this post and pin it to your favorite board. Don’t forget to categorize those recipe boards.
Let’s talk turkey. Not just any run of the mill ordinary oven roasted turkey. Let’s talk grilled rotisserie turkey. Quite possibly the best tasting turkey to ever cross your lips. At least, in my (humble) opinion. If you have a heavy duty rotisserie attachment for your grill, then trust me, you will want to try grilling a turkey like this. If you don’t, well then, you might want to drop everything you are doing and run to your nearest home improvement store to get one for your grill ASAP!
One of my boyfriend’s gifts for the holiday was a rotisserie attachment for his Weber grill. He buys me bling for my stand mixer and I buy him bling for his grill. That’s the deal we have. Quite symbiotic if I do say so myself.
Now, we have grilled turkey before, but never quite like this. I don’t know if it was the brine that I bathed the turkey in for 2 days, the addition of herb butter, onions, apples, carrots, and lemons to the cavity, or if it was the beer soaked wood chips that gave it such great flavor. I think it was really the combination of everything that made this turkey one of the most succulent melt-in-your-mouth tasting turkeys this side of the Mason Dixson.
I found the brine recipe from The Pioneer Woman blog, (Ree Drummond) and tried it out on my oven roasted turkey at Thanksgiving. It was so juicy and tender that it practically melted in our mouths. To sell my point a little more, my daughter who claims to not like turkey at ALL could not get enough of it. You can visit Ree’s blog for more details on the brine and how to cook the oven roasted turkey.
However, today we are talking grilled rotisserie turkey. I’ll take you through the step by step process of how to get the best tasting turkey you may ever had the pleasure of eating. If that sounds a bit arrogant I apologize, but even my boyfriend’s brother couldn’t stop talking up our turkey at Christmas dinner.
Let’s begin. I bought a 15 lb fresh Butterball hormone-free turkey. It’s best to use a fresh turkey and not a previously thawed turkey when brining. You’ll need a large brining bag or extra large ziploc bag for your turkey. You will also need a heavy duty rotisserie attachment, quality meat thermometer, and baster.
Turkey Brine -Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Turkey Brine Recipe Blog
2 Gallons of Water
4 cups of apple cider
1½ cups kosher salt (or iodized salt)
2 cups brown sugar
5 cloves fresh chopped garlic
5-7 whole bay leaves
1 teaspoon thyme
3 large orange peels in large pieces ( I sliced my right off the orange with a knife)
1 lemon peel
3 tablespoons of pepper corns
6 tablespoons fresh rosemary (or about 6-9 stripped sprigs)
In a large stock pot pour in 1 gallon of water and add all the other ingredients. Bring to a boil and turn off stove.
Let cool completely.
I prepare my brine the night before to give it plenty of time to cool down.
You can put pot in the fridge
Mine was just fine sitting on the stove.
You will want to give yourself at least 24-36 hours of brine time.
Please refer to picture tutorial for further instructions.
Now I ask you. How beautiful is that!? Oh, andah your house is going to smell amazingly spice-y and citrus-ey! Once it comes to a rapid boil, be sure to turn off the burner and let it cool. Even if you are going to place it in the fridge overnight make sure it has cooled for a couple of hours or so.
I reserve a gallon of water and simply pour it in the brining bag, rather than try to lift and pour two gallons of water into a bag. The guns ain’t what they used ta be if ya know what I mean! Plus, by reserving a gallon, it allows the pot to cool down much faster.
Time for the turkey bath! Remove your turkey from the refrigerator and make sure to remove the giblets, neck and all that good stuff. I never use mine, so I just toss them in the trash, but if you want to add them to your turkey gravy, then by all means, put them aside. Yes, I’m even going to give you a recipe for the best tasting turkey gravy too!
Rinse and pat your turkey dry. Place it in your large brining bag. I found some bags at Bed Bath and Beyond, but Ziploc has this extra large bag that works great. I like the reinforced zip loc protection. The other bag had an “iffy” zipper lock. Either way, your choice.
Pour the brine into your bag. You may want to have someone help you with this step.
Now, pour your remaining gallon of water into the bag. A great tip is to place the bag in a large roasting pan and then pour the brine in. Have you ever lifted a two gallon water ballon that just happens to have a 15 lb turkey in it? I have! Press as much air out of the bag as possible, and tightly seal the zipper lock.
Place the roasting pan into your refrigerator. If you are like me and really don’t have the room, I use a large cooler and keep plenty of ice on hand. This will require checking on it every so often and adding more ice. About 12-16 hours in, flip your turkey over. This is so both sides have plenty of time to soak up the brine.
See you back here in about 24 to 36 hours! In the meantime, you can make up this wonderful herb butter that you are going to slather all over your turkey.
Herb Butter: 1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature. I didn’t measure out my ingredients so use as much or a little as you’d like. Place the soft butter in a bowl add some sea salt over top of the butter. No more than a teaspoon. Add fresh chopped garlic, minced red onion, finely chopped rosemary, thyme, and parsley (I used fresh.) Now, mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until all the ingredients are incorporated and turn out onto a piece of medium sized plastic wrap and roll the butter into a log. Tightly twist off both ends and you have yourself one tasty herb butter log. Place back in fridge until needed.
Remember to flip your turkey half way through the brining process.
Great to see you back! We are getting close to the good part. I promise! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Let your turkey sit out at room temperature for about half and hour to take the cold edge off. Get out your herb butter and bring to room temperature as well. Empty bag down the sink drain and rinse your turkey throughly. Pat dry. I usually lay the turkey bag down on the counter and place a good amount of paper towels down on top to pat dry and finish up the process.
This is also a good time to have your grill on. If you are using beer soaked wood chips/smoker, (optional) you may want to turn the grill on high and get the chips smoking an hour or so before. We usually forget and mess this step up, because the grill is going to be at a low temp while cooking the turkey. But no worries. With or without your turkey is going to be savory. A great tip is to use your grill a day ahead of time and and cook some thick juicy steaks or chicken on it. Then, the next time you use the grill, the wood chips will be at their peak smokiness.
While your chips are getting cozy in the fire, take a shallow aluminum roasting pan and add one whole sliced fuji apple, 1 whole sliced lemon, and half of a sliced red onion. Throw in some baby carrots and some cracked sea salt and pepper. Reserve some of the fruits and veggies to stuff inside the turkey. Pour in chicken stock until bottom of the pan is covered. This pan is going to get placed in the middle of the grill and catch the drippings of the turkey, so make sure your pan is large enough for that to happen. Why? Because it’s going to produce some of the best tasting turkey gravy you have ever tasted. That’s why!
Next, slather some of the herb butter inside the turkey cavity, and a little up under the breast skin. Try not to go too far under as you don’t want the skin falling off. Rub the herb butter on both sides of the turkey and get the wings and drumsticks too! I usually just grab a hunk of butter and massage the turkey with my hands. Reserve about 3 tablespoons of the herb butter for the gravy.Place the reserved fruit and veggies medley inside the cavity. Don’t worry if these fall out while the rotisserie spins. It will be fine. They are simply there for added flavor. Remember, you will be basting the turkey towards the end, so all that juicy goodness is going back on Mr. Turkey!
You will need some wire or heavy duty string to tie the wings and drumsticks so they don’t flop around. Secure your turkey tightly to the rod (per rotisserie instructions) and place on the grill. We have a Weber 3 burner grill so we turn off the middle burner and leave the two end burners on the lowest setting. You are going to want to grill your turkey around 275-300 degrees. We we also have a temperature reading on our grill lid. Very convenient. A turkey can cook faster on the grill and it took our 15 lb. turkey about 2 1/2 hours to 2 hours and 45 minutes to cook. Just be sure to keep watch.
When ready to use your meat thermometer, place it in the thickest part of the thigh to get an accurate temperature reading. You’ll want to take the turkey off when the temperature reads between 160-165 degrees. No higher.
Okay, make sure your pan for the drippings is strategically placed. You don’t won’t to miss one drop of that savory fruity turkey business.
Have the turkey baster handy, because as the turkey drippings fill the pan you can simply squeeze them up and transfer all the drippings to a measuring cup. You’ll want to accumulate about 2 cups of drippings. Reserve some of the drippings in the pan for basting towards the end of the process.
Time to be patient. Do your best. I can assure you, the smell is going to draw neighbors to your backyard. Place the grill lid down and let it do it’s thang honey!
Check on your turkey every so often to make sure everything is copasetic. This is the time when you will be collecting the drippings. Try not to baste just yet. It’s not quite time. Put the lid back down…And. Step. Away. From. The. Grill.
When your turkey looks like this, it’s getting to be just about done. But don’t rely simply on color. Use your meat thermometer to check the temperature. This is also around the time when you’ll want to start basting your turkey with it’s juicy drippings. You should have your 2 cups of drippings collected at this point. Time to go inside to make that gravy goodness that you are going to pour all over your plate! Don’t forget to put that lid back down!
For the gravy you will need 3 tablespoons of the herb butter melted on med low heat in a medium size pot. Once melted, increase heat to medium high and add 5 tablespoons of flour and whisk together. This is your roux. Add 1/4 cup white wine (optional) and your 2 cups of drippings. Add about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of chicken stock and 3 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream. Whisk on med high heat until it gravy thickens up then simmer. Add some fresh cracked pepper and tiny bit of sea salt. Adjust to your taste. If gravy is too thin, add more flour. If too salty add a little water. Gravy is very forgiving. I don’t have any pictures of my gravy, buuuuut oh my goodness, oh my goodness, it tastes soooooo good!
Once your turkey has completely cooked to 160-156 degrees remove it from the grill and place on a platter. Let it rest for half an hour to 45 minutes before slicing. I know, an almost impossible feat. Try to control the urge to pick at the crispy brown skin. And if that means fighting the rest of the family off with a stick, well, do what must be done!